Ecclesiastical First Report




"They must set the Good Shepherd always before them as the pattern of their calling."

(The Bishops' Charge, ASB Ordinal)

  1.1  The clergy are entrusted with the privilege and responsibility of being a focus for ministry (pastoral, priestly and prophetic) for the Church and an identified representative of that ministry for the world. They exercise their ministry in parish or workplace, as stipendiary or non-stipendiary, full-time, part-time or retired, in pioneering or in well-established contexts.

  1.2  These Guidelines seek to provide an agreed framework of professional conduct. For the clergy this will be both an encouragement and an affirmation of good practice, so it is important to promote a standard that has theological, pastoral and practical validity.

  1.3  The clergy will often find themselves in the powerful position of meeting people at the limits of their vulnerability. The Guidelines seek to safeguard and reassure such people, so engendering trust, without which ministry cannot take place.

  1.4  All personal and professional conduct is bounded by law and legal sanction. For the clergy, who at ordination swear the Oaths of Obedience and make the Declaration of Assent, this will include ecclesiastical and canon law. However, response to a vocation to serve as an ordained minister signifies the voluntary undertaking of obligations of sacrificial self-discipline above and beyond the requirements of secular and ecclesiastical law. The Ordinal outlines these undertakings and thus guides conduct, so it is the Ordinal that has been used to provide the inspiration and the framework for these Guidelines.

  1.5  The primary aims of the Guidelines are:

    —  To ensure the welfare and the protection of individuals and groups with whom the clergy work.

    —  To ensure the welfare and the protection the clergy and of their families.

    —  To encourage the clergy to aspire to the highest possible standard of conduct.

    —  To provide safe and effective boundaries for clerical ministry.

    —  To encourage personal and corporate ministerial development.

Called to serve: a servant and shepherd, serve with joy

  1.6  Above all else, the clergy are called to be servants of the people of God on behalf of the Servant of all. As pastors, spiritual guides and representatives of the Christian faith, they are in a position of trust in their relationships with those for whom they have pastoral care. It is this ministry of service that underpins and binds all.

  1.7  In the outline that follows, the issues are not listed in order of priority but are grouped around the imperatives in the sequence they are found in the Ordinal.

2.  CARE

Caring for the poor, the needy, the sick, the dying and all who are in trouble

  2.1  Compassion is essential to pastoral care. It is part of the shared ministry and mission of the whole church and is an extension of the justice and love of the Incarnate God disclosed in Jesus Christ. In their ministry, pastoral care and colleagueship, the clergy must endeavour to offer equal respect and opportunity to all. Any form of deliberate discrimination is unacceptable.

  2.2  It is good and often appropriate in certain circumstances to share pastoral care with suitable members of the worshipping community.

  2.3  The clergy minister through their own broken humanity. They should be aware of their own need to receive ministry.

  2.4  The clergy should discern and make clear their own limitations of time, competence and skill. At times they will need to seek support, help and appropriate training.

  2.5  The difference between pastoral care and counselling should always be recognised.

  2.6  The clergy should be aware of the help available from accredited agencies so that it can be commended where appropriate.

  2.7  There is risk in all pastoral work. The place of the meeting, the arrangement of furniture and lighting, and the dress of the minister should be carefully considered. The appropriateness of visiting and being visited alone, especially at night, should always be assessed.

  2.8  It is essential in pastoral care to acknowledge appropriate physical, emotional and psychological boundaries. Inappropriate touching or gestures of affection should be avoided.

  2.9  When help or advice is being sought, any note-taking should be mutually agreed and is subject to data protection legislation.

  2.10  The clergy should be aware of the dangers of dependency in pastoral relationships. Manipulation, competitiveness or collusion on either side of the pastoral encounter should be avoided. Self-awareness should be part of the relationship.

  2.11  A minister caring for one partner in a marriage or relationship should make it clear that good pastoral care should involve both partners.

  2.12  The clergy should be aware of the potential for abusing their privileged relationships.

  2.13  All clergy must have appropriate training in child protection. National and diocesan guidelines and requirements must be known and observed.


"In the name of the Lord we bid you remember the greatness of the trust now to be committed to your charge. . ."

"You cannot bear the weight of this ministry in your own strength, but only by the power of God"

  3.1  We are all members of the body of Christ, made in the image and likeness of God. Pastoral care will seek to bring about Christ-like wholeness, both personal and corporate.

  3.2  In pastoral and caring relationships the clergy should be open to God and to the needs of the other person, seeking the welfare of the other party and promoting their best interests. The clergy must be aware of when they are in any vulnerable situation with regard to the pastoral care of children and young people.

  3.3  The development of trust is of primary importance for honest relationships within ministry

  3.4  The clergy must be aware that those for whom they care may be distressed and vulnerable. The power conferred on a minister in such situations should be acknowledged, used positively, and never abused.

  3.5  It is always wrong to exploit or manipulate those who are vulnerable. Improper questioning or physical contact can be emotionally or sexually abusive.

  3.6  Spiritual authority must be exercised with gentleness and sensitivity, and the minister must be aware of the possibility of spiritual abuse.

  3.7  Pastoral care must never seek to remove the autonomy given to the individual. In pastoral situations the other party must be allowed the freedom to make decisions that may be mistaken.

  3.8  In leadership, teaching, preaching and presiding at worship, the clergy must avoid all temptation to exercise power inappropriately.

  3.9  The clergy should thankfully acknowledge their own God-given sexuality. Nevertheless, they must be aware of the danger of seeking sexual advantage, emotionally or physically, in the exercise of their ministry.

  3.10  In their personal life the clergy should set an example of integrity in relationships and faithfulness in marriage.

  3.11  What is said to a clergy person privately must be understood to be confidential at all times.

  3.12  The clergy should assume prima facie that personal information and information shared amongst colleagues should be treated as confidential.

  3.13  Information may only be divulged with the other party's properly informed consent. When, in the minister's judgment, information needs to be disclosed and consent cannot be gained, the other party should be informed that such disclosure has taken, or will take place.

  3.14  The clergy should be aware of legal requirements for disclosure in extreme circumstances, particularly where the safety of children is concerned.

  3.15  The content and process of a pastoral relationship may be shared with certain other people: a supervisor or supervisory group, consultant, or other involved colleagues. These extensions of confidentiality are to be carefully restricted. The parishioner should know that these extensions of confidentiality are necessary to enable the minister to offer them the best possible care. Identifying data, names, etc, should be removed or disguised when pastoral work is discussed with a consultant or supervision group. In discussion with involved colleagues, it may be necessary to identify individuals. Consent for this should be gained.

  3.16  Unless agreed, the clergy are not at liberty to share confidential information with their spouses, family or friends.

  3.17  The clergy should be aware of legal requirements for disclosure in extreme circumstances, particularly where the safety of children is concerned.

  3.18  It is important to safeguard the right of parishioners to share personal information with one minister and not another, if they so wish. It is also important to be aware of the danger of ministers within a team being manipulated and divided by the sharing of personal information with one and not another.

  3.19  Any records, including those on a computer database, which contain personal information other than a name and address will come under the provisions of the Data Protection Act. All those who keep such records should register under the Act.

  3.20  If written records are kept, the general provisions of confidentiality and informed disclosure should apply. Records should be kept in such a manner as to be secure and yet clear and open to those to whom they refer. Those compiling the records must be prepared to be accountable for their content.


Search out the careless and indifferent

You are to be messengers, watchmen and stewards of the Lord.

. . .which faith the church is called upon to proclaim afresh in each generation.

(from the Preface to The Declaration of Assent)

  4.1  Mission is a primary clerical calling.

  4.2  The clergy should lead their congregations in proclaiming afresh the Good News of Jesus Christ and promoting mission, including evangelism, in the prayer, planning and practice of ministry.

  4.3  Schools, along with other institutions within a parish, may provide opportunities for mission and ministry and a church school is a particular responsibility for the clergy. The clergy should seek to enhance opportunities for themselves and appropriately gifted and trained laity to contribute to the worship, religious education, pastoral care and governance in the Church school.

  4.4  The clergy should ensure that well-led and accessible courses and discussion groups on all aspects of the Christian faith are available at regular intervals to parishioners seeking to explore, deepen or renew their faith.

  4.5  There should be suitable preparation for applicants for Baptism, Confirmation and Christian Marriage.

  4.6  The clergy should recognise, affirm and encourage the ministry and witness of lay people in their workplaces and communities.


Preach and proclaim the word of God Teach,

admonish, encourage, build, feed and provide

Strengthen the faithful

  5.1  Continued theological learning is an essential discipline for preaching and teaching, as well as for personal growth. This should be developed and supported through a variety of means, both individual and corporate.

  5.2  Keeping abreast of a whole variety of communicating skills is crucial to the effective and ongoing proclamation of the gospel.

  5.3  Part of the clerical vocation in both preaching and teaching is a prayerful openness to being prophetic and challenging as well as encouraging and illuminating.

  5.4  Great care should be taken with illustrative material from personal experience. Appropriate confidentiality must be observed.

6.  LEAD

Lead in prayer and worship . . . to equip God's people for the work of ministry and to build up the body of Christ

  6.1  The clergy are called to leadership within the church and the wider community.

  6.2  They should develop this gift of leadership within their own ministry through prayer and training, being aware of their own natural leadership style.

  6.3  The clergy should promote collaborative ministry across the whole range of church life and activity, recognising and affirming lay ministry that already exists and encouraging new ministries, both lay and ordained. They should be ready to assist others in discerning and fulfilling their vocation and should acknowledge and respect the range of experience amongst the church membership, which can be used for the benefit of all.

  6.4  The clergy should ensure that services are thoughtfully prepared, matching the need and culture of the parish with the Anglican ethos.

  6.5  Where appropriate, the clergy should involve others in leadership of worship, providing training and preparation as necessary to support them.

  6.6  The clergy should be aware of the needs of their congregation and take any practical steps necessary to ensure that worship is truly inclusive and that no one is excluded through disability or disadvantage.

  6.7  Clergy must not render ministerial service to the members of another parish, church or pastoral cure without consulting the minister concerned.

  6.8  Upon resignation or retirement, clergy must immediately lay down their leadership and sever all professional relationships with those formerly under their pastoral cure. Any exception to this guideline should be clearly negotiated with the relevant pastoral authorities.

  6.9  Retired clergy should return to a former church, parish or institution for professional service or pastoral care, such as weddings and funerals, only if invited by the resident clergy or with their permission.

  6.10  All the clergy should support the ministry of the parish in which they reside.


Call to repentance

Absolve and declare forgiveness

  7.1  The ministry of reconciliation, as an extension of Jesus' own ministry, lies at the heart of the priestly life. It is to be exercised gently, patiently and undergirded by mutual trust.

  7.2  There can be no disclosure of what is said to a priest in confession whatever the context. This principle holds even after the death of the penitent.

  Some appropriate action (of contrition) may be required before absolution is given. A priest may withhold absolution.

  The priest may not refer to what he has learnt in confession, even to the penitent, unless explicitly permitted.

  7.3  If a penitent's behaviour gravely threatens his or her well-being or that of others, the priest, while advising action on the penitent's part, must still keep the confidence.

  7.4  An appeal to the tradition of the church demonstrates this understanding pf the "seal of the confessional" and the relevant provision in the Canons of 1604 (Canon 113) was left unrepealed by the Canons of 1969, which superseded the earlier Canons in almost every other respect. Whether the civil courts will always respect this principle of absolute confidentiality remains uncertain.


Respect authority

In all things lawful and honest

  8.1  The clergy swear an oath of obedience to the Bishop. The clergy should participate fully in the life and work of deanery, archdeaconry, diocese and province, as opportunity offers, giving support and respect to those given the responsibility of leadership and oversight.

  8.2  The clergy should know how canon and ecclesiastical law shape their exercise of office and ministry, and should respect such regulations as are put in place by the Church.

  8.3  The authority of churchwardens and lay people elected or appointed to office in the local church should be respected, affirmed and supported.

  8.4  The clergy should participate fully in continuing ministerial education and in appraisal, knowing that they need to be accountable for the work they do and that accountability involves regular review personally and with others.


Be diligent in prayer and study, praying for his Holy Spirit

  9.1  The call to ministry is first and foremost a call to discipleship of our Lord Jesus Christ. The development of that discipleship is in the discipline of prayer, worship, Bible study and the giving of the time and space to the discernment of the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

  9.2  The clergy should meet regularly with a work consultant to review their ongoing ministerial practice.

  9.3  Spiritual discernment can be facilitated by sharing the journey of faith with another person. A minister should have some person or a team outside the work situation to whom to turn for help on a regular basis as a spiritual director or soul friend.

  9.4  The clergy should make sure that time and resources are available for their own personal and spiritual life and take responsibility for their own ongoing training and development.

  9.5  The clergy should keep their ways of working, activities and procedures under review and to be committed to the appropriate ministerial review process.

  9.6  The clergy should recognise the importance of knowing themselves and their own emotional needs within their devotional life as the foundation of Christian pastoral care.


Fashion your life and the life of your household according to the way of Christ

  10.1  The clergy should reflect on their workload and activities regularly. The time given to family life, friendship, recreation and renewal should be included and the reflection will be the more useful if conducted both as part of a formal review and also in discussion with a spiritual director and work consultant.

  10.2  The clergy are called to a high standard of moral behaviour. Those who are called to marriage and family life should never forget that this is also a vocation and should not be thought to be of secondary importance to their vocation to ministry. They should guard themselves and their family against becoming victims of stress.

  10.3  Those who are single, including those with a vocation of celibacy, should be aware of their needs and take the necessary steps to nurture their lives.

  10.4  Good administration enables good pastoral care. Dealing with correspondence and enquiries with efficiency and courtesy facilitates good communication between church and community.

  10.5  The keeping of parochial registers and records to a high standard is legally required as well as part of pastoral care.

  10.6  The clergy must ensure that all their financial activities, whether personal or corporate, meet the highest ethical standards. They should ensure that there are strict boundaries between church finance and personal moneys, avoiding always the possibility of suspicion or impropriety.

  10.7  The clergy should never seek any personal advantage or gain by virtue of their clerical position

  10.8  The clergy should take care of their physical well-being. They should not undertake any professional duties when medically advised against it, nor under the influence of alcohol or drugs.


Promote unity, peace and love

  11.1  The reputation of the church in the community depends to a great extent on the behaviour of its clergy. The clergy must recognise their role as public representatives of the Church of England, being sensitive to their historical, sociological and spiritual persona within the communities committed to their charge.

  11.2  They should enhance and embody the communication of the Gospel.

  11.3  This has implications not only for their actual moral and ethical conduct but also for how it may be perceived.

  11.4  The clergy should ensure a reasonable level of availability and accessibility to the people of their parish or to those for whom they have a pastoral care.

  11.5  The clergy have a particular role and calling as a catalyst of healing and as an agent of reconciliation for those in their charge.

  11.6  The call of the clergy to be a servant to the community should include their prophetic ministry to those in spiritual and moral danger.

  11.7  The clergy are called to understand and use culture but not be subservient to it.

  11.8  The clergy are privileged to be continually involved in the rites of passage, joys and sorrows, hopes and fears of their people. They should be particularly aware of both the opportunity and power this gives.



"Will you uphold them in their ministry?"

  12.1  "Care for the carers" is fundamental. The clergy need to be supported and the laity have a particular and significant role in the pastoral care of the clergy.

  12.2  The officers of the parish, especially the churchwardens, should ensure that their clergy have:

    —  Sufficient time off for rest, recreation and proper holidays.

    —  An annual opportunity to make a retreat of at least a week's duration.

    —  Adequate administrative assistance.

    —  Reimbursement in full of ministerial expenses.

    —  Appropriate release for extra parochial ministry.

    —  Encouragement for ministry to the whole parish not just the gathered congregation.

  12.3  The Bishop takes on canonical responsibility for the welfare of the clergy when he receives the oath of assent. The ways in which he exercises this responsibility will vary considerably from diocese to diocese.

  12.4  The role of archdeacons and of rural and area deans in caring for and supporting the clergy should be recognised.

  12.5  The clergy should be encouraged to develop opportunities for mutual support and pastoral care within chapters, cell groups, or other peer-groupings. All the clergy should also be encouraged to have a spiritual director, soul friend, confessor or other such person to support their spiritual life and help to develop their growth in self-understanding. Help should be given, if required, in finding such a person.

  12.6  A directory or list of Pastoral Care and Counselling resources should be drawn up and made available in the diocese to the clergy and to their families, so that they can make their own arrangements to find help and support as they wish. Financial resources should be made available in the diocese to assist the clergy in paying for appropriate help if necessary.

  12.7  Confidentiality should be assured at every level. The boundaries between different persons involved in such care must therefore be recognised by all in the diocesan structures, not least where issues of financial assistance are involved. Advisers in Pastoral Care need to be especially careful to maintain these boundaries when making referrals or making reports to their diocesan superiors.

  12.8  The bishop or his trained representatives should also undertake a regular review and appraisal of each clergy person's work that should be clearly linked into the purposeful development of the individual's ministry, within the context of the needs of the Church.

  12.9  Where some form of work consultancy for the clergy is available, it should be offered by trained personnel whose work is monitored and reviewed by the appropriate officer(s).

  12.10  Adequate and suitable training in financial, administrative and managerial matters should be made available and accessible to the clergy, and provision should be made for it by the diocese.

  12.11  Clergy who are licensed under seal but not receiving a stipend should have a working agreement clearly setting out agreed boundaries of time and responsibility.

  12.12  In dual ministries, where clergy have both a sector and a parochial responsibility, there should be a clear understanding between diocese, parish and the clergy person concerned about where the boundaries lie.

  12.13  Support and advice on the practical, psychological and emotional issues involved should be readily available to clergy approaching retirement and to their families.

  12.14  The bishop and those exercising pastoral care of the clergy should, both by word and example, actively encourage the clergy to adopt a healthy life-style. This should include adequate time for leisure, through taking days off and their full holiday entitlement, developing interests outside their main area of ministry, and maintaining a commitment to the care and development of themselves and their personal relationships. Helping the clergy understand and overcome unrealistic expectations within themselves and from the outside world needs to be a priority. Specific needs of married and of single clergy should be identified and addressed.

  Among those whom we consulted were the following:

  General Synod House of Bishops, Standing Committee;

  General Synod House of Bishops, Ministry Committee;

  General Synod House of Laity, Chairman;

  General Synod Legal Officers;

  General Synod, Liturgical Commission;

  General Synod Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns Committee;

  Conference of Deans and Provosts;

  Conference of Archdeacons;

  Conference of Diocesan Secretaries;

  Diocesan Synod House of Clergy, Chairmen;

  Anglican Association of Advisors in Pastoral Care and Counselling;

  Association of Black Clergy;

  Clergy Section of MSF Union;

  Ecclesiastical Law Society;

  Editors of the Church of England Newspaper and the Church Times;

  National Association of Diocesan Advisers for Women's Ministry;

  Retired Clergy Association;

  The Revd Dr Francis Bridger.

  We were kindly supplied with Codes of Practice by the dioceses of Gloucester, Norwich, Oxford, Rochester, St Edmundsbury & Ipswich, Sheffield, Southwark and Worcester.

  Published 2002 for the Convocations of Canterbury and York.

  Guidelines, Parts I and II, are Copyright The Convocations of Canterbury and York

  The Theological Reflection may be copied in whole or part provided that acknowledgement of authorship is made. Copyright The Revd Dr Francis Bridger

  All rights reserved. Dioceses, Churches and other church organizations have permission to reproduce this publication in part or in its entirety for local use provided the copies include the copyright lines and no charge is made for them. Any other reproduction, storage or transmission of material from this publication by any means or in any form, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, requires written permission which should be sought from the Copyright and Contracts Administrator, The Archbishops' Council, Church House, Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3NZ.

  (Tel: 020 7898 1557;

Fax: 020 7898 1449;

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Prepared 3 April 2003