Appendix E-10: Code of Ethics in Pastoral Care

(The 1996 General Assembly strongly encourages ministers, elders, parish councillors, sessions and parish councils to adopt the Code of Ethics as an agreed minimum standard of practice.)


This Code is to be read in the context of the Preamble to the Book of Order, the Statement on the Book of Order, and the Standards set out in Chapter 1, Section A. These set out the basis of the faith, order and discipline of this church. The discipline of our church applies to ministers and other office-bearers, communicants and adherent members who have arrived at the years of discretion.

This Code is a statement of how the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand understands the standards of conduct of those members who undertake the work of pastoral care in its name. In this context the term minister will include all, clergy and lay, who undertake the work of pastoral care.

Pastoral care involves the formation of special relationships characterised by openness and trust. These relationships are developed in a variety of settings and a variety of ways, from informal pastoral care to structured counselling situations.

This Code indicates acceptable ethical behaviour for those offering pastoral care. While its focus is pastoral care, it is also applicable wherever there is a ministry relation between people. By the grace of God we are called to serve, and through the power of the Holy Spirit we are sustained and encouraged to keep within this code.

Responsibilities to Those to Whom We Offer Pastoral Care

1) Ministers will deal truthfully with people, encouraging free and open discussion, upholding their best interests, rights and well-being.

2) Ministers will respect the right of people to privacy and confidentiality of information except when there is a clear and imminent danger to those people or others, at which time they will be informed of those limits.

3) Ministers will recognise the dignity and worth of every person and will offer pastoral care without unfair discrimination.

4) Ministers will not abuse their position by taking advantage of people for personal, financial or institutional gain.

5) Ministers will recognise that sexual intimacy in the pastoral situation is unacceptable and will not subject people to sexual exploitation, sexual harassment or sexual abuse.

6) Ministers will recognise that there are limits to their competence and will refer people to others when this proves necessary or desirable. They will not attempt counselling without training.

7) Ministers will recognise that there is a cultural context for pastoral care and will act with awareness and sensitivity.

Responsibilities to the Church

1) Ministers will uphold high standards of practice in ministry and work for the advancement of those standards.

2) Ministers will exercise stewardship in the time given to ministry, guarding against both over commitment and avoidance of responsibility.

Responsibilities to Colleagues and Other Pastoral Workers

1) Ministers will promote co-operation with colleagues, pastoral workers and members of other helping professions, treating them with consideration and respecting professional confidences.

2) Ministers will seek mediation through the courts of the church when conflicts with colleagues or others within the church community arise.

3) Ministers will take action through the proper channels concerning unethical conduct by colleagues or other pastoral workers.

Responsibilities to the Wider Community

1) Ministers will act to prevent and eliminate unfair discrimination in the wider community.

2) Ministers will encourage as part of their pastoral task, participation in the shaping of social policies, advocating the promotion of social justices, improved social conditions and a fair sharing of the community’s resources.

Personal Responsibilities

1) Ministers will use regular approved supervision to maintain accountability and a high standard of pastoral care.

2) Ministers will use regular opportunities for spiritual growth, personal recreation and refreshment.

3) Ministers will seek to extend and enhance their knowledge.

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