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Gospel centred sermons, based on the lectionary often in advance.


Jan 30, 2012





DRAFT 3 As adopted at the April 2011 Meeting of the Council of Elders (Church Council)


A Code of Ethics for Elders at St Stephen’s Uniting Church in Toowoomba has been developed, with significant inputs from Elder deliberations and the Uniting Church in Australia’s own Code of Ethics and Ministry Practice (see the UCA’s Constitution and Regulations [2008 Edition]). Many of the items below have been taken, in ‘as is’ or revised form, from the UCA’s Code of Ethics and Ministry Practice.


A.            Personal Qualities and Behaviours

Elders shall:

  •  Display – A commitment to principles of equality, fairness and justice; Honesty;Integrity;Humility; 
  • Maintain their spiritual and emotional health;
  • Give adequate priority to their relationships with their family;
  •   Carry out duties of Elders conscientiously and in a timely manner; and
  • Nurture personal relationships which assist them in their wholeness.


B.            Foundations of Elder Role Performance


Elders shall seek to exercise spiritual oversight:

  • Through faith in Jesus Christ and relying on the power of the Holy Spirit;
  •  Within the faith of the Church, guided by the Basis of Union;
  • By being nourished and guided by ongoing study, including the study of Scripture;
  • Through announcing the Good News in Christ to those outside the community of faith;
  • In a mutual manner, offering pastoral care and nurturing people in faith and recognising and valuing other people’s gifts;
  •  By striving for peace, justice and unity among all Christian people;
  • By respecting the guidance and decisions of the Councils of the Church;
  • Within the discipline of the Church; 
  • By accepting the theological validity of the commissioning or ordaining of both women and men for ministry and leadership; 
  • By upholding the theological and liturgical tradition of the Church as stated in the Basis of Union; and
  • By attending worship at St Stephen’s, unless health problems prevent them from doing so.


Elders shall exercise pastoral oversight in a manner that expresses: 

  • Commitment to God
  • Inclusiveness of the Gospel;
  • Accountability
  • by not seeking to meet their personal needs through the pastoral relationship;

- by recognising and observing clear boundaries in pastoral relationships;

- by respecting and showing sensitivity to, and reverence for, others;

- by maintaining confidentiality;

- by not resorting to an abuse of power;

- by encouraging members of the Congregation to identify and use their talents and gifts; and

- through a commitment to justice.


C.             Relationships

Elders shall display:  

  • A deep and abiding respect of others, demonstrated by unconditional love, compassion and acceptance;
  • A commitment to offering the best care possible for others, with an emphasis on inclusiveness; 
  • Sensitivity to, and a high degree of tolerance of, people’s different physical, psychological and social needs and cultural differences coupled with a slowness to be judgmental;
  •  A sensitivity to ways of relating to people of different cultures; 
  • A preparedness to seek mutual understanding through negotiation;
  • A readiness to affirm achievements and qualities in others;
  • A commitment to active listening; 
  • A sense of genuine trust and trustworthiness, especially in relation to other decision makers within the Church;
  • A recognition of the power inherent within their roles and a commitment to not using this power in a manner which is abusive or unprofessional;
  •  A commitment to dealing appropriately in pastoral relationships with emotional and spiritual needs; 
  • A preparedness to end a pastoral relationship when it is not beneficial for the other person and/or seek assistance where the help needed is outside their competence; and
  •  An openness to challenge and correction from colleagues.

D.            Performance of Role of Elder

(a)          Teaching and Learning

Elders shall:

  • Undertake continuing education appropriate to their role; 
  • Promote, participate in and actively contribute to, Christian education and spiritual development within the Congregation;
  • Contribute in significant ways to the spiritual oversight of the Congregation;  
  • Advocate and support the notion of the Congregation as a learning community in spiritual matters; 
  • Show a willingness to extend personal and collective faith journeys;
  • Seek the truth; 
  • Offer appropriate Christian teaching; and
  • Accurately represent opposing views.

(b)          Confidentiality

Elders shall: 

  • Not breach confidentiality where information has been designated confidential;
  • Not share written or spoken information about an individual with other people or use it for a purpose other than that for which it was collected; 
  • In the context of a pastoral relationship, take care to discuss the nature and limits of their confidentiality with another person, and seek permission, if needed, to share the information with relevant other persons, e.g., minister, Life Line, etc;
  • Treat information received in the context of a pastoral relationship as confidential unless:

- the person gives permission for the particular disclosure;

- retaining such information would result in significant physical, emotional or sexual harm to another person or persons;

- required by law to disclose it;

- disclosure is necessary to prevent financial loss to another person due to fraud, dishonesty or where undue hardship might result; and

  • Not seek to gain sensitive or confidential information to which they are not entitled or which would require another person to breach a confidence.



(c) Particular Relationships

A particular relationship refers to a close personal relationship between an Elder and another person such as: (i) a very close personal relationship; (ii) a close family relationship; (iii) a marriage; (iv) a relationship that is being romanticised.


Elders shall: 

  • Be aware that personal and professional relationships may affect pastoral relationships; 
  • Recognise those particular relationships that it is inappropriate to continue on in, in a pastoral relationship; 
  • Disclose the particular relationship that has developed, or is developing, in the context of a pastoral relationship, to an appropriate officer of the Church, e.g., Minister; 
  • Not be the sole provider of pastoral care where particular relationships exist; and 
  • Usually, cease a pastoral relationship in order to enter a particular relationship. (N.B.: As in point 3 above, any particular relationship entered into, where a pastoral relationship exists, should be disclosed to the appropriate officer.)


(d)          Gifts and Fees

Elders shall: 

  • Not seek financial gain for themselves or their families from a pastoral relationship beyond recognised fees and entitlements;
  • Use discretion concerning the acceptance or return of gifts by considering the intent and affordability of the gift and whether there is a risk of the Elder being compromised or losing objectivity; and
  • Examine the appropriate use of a gift to benefit the community of faith where a gift has been accepted to satisfy cultural traditions.

(e)          Relationship with the Law

Elders shall:

  • Inform the Elders’ Council of any matter which may lead to legal action against the Minister and/or the Church; 
  • Inform the appropriate civil authority of any matter which may lead to legal action against the Minister and/or the Church; and
  • Not deliberately break the law or encourage another to do so except in circumstances of political resistance or civil disobedience.

(f)           Working with Another Institution or Profession

Elders shall:

  • Make themselves aware of the Codes of Ethics or similar guidelines in other institutions where they may serve, e.g., Hospitals, prisons, etc; 
  • Abide by those codes of Ethics adopted by those institutions; and
  • Inform all parties of any conflicts across Codes of Ethics and seek resolution of these conflicts.


Minor amendment made in line with the April decision and approved for distribution by Minister & Elders Chair Rev Andrew Gillies 27-Sep-11