CCFI Code of Ethics
COVENANT CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP INTERNATIONAL, INC
(An Ecclesiastical Body)
CODE OF ETHICS
I. SCOPE AND INTENT
We who minister within our local churches, organizations, and ministries founded by Jesus Christ have the responsibility to exemplify Gospel teachings, values, and mandates in our lives, and in our actions. We must be aware of the responsibilities that accompany our work, knowing that God’s goodness and graces support us in our ministries.
The intent of this Code is to establish ethical standards of conduct for ministers within the Covenant Christian Fellowship International, Inc (CCFI). The conduct of Church ministers has the power to inspire and motivate people, or to scandalize them and erode their faith. CCFI ministers, as used in this document, include all who represent CCFI, by virtue of office or designated position, whether paid or unpaid. This Code does not supersede canon or civil law, nor does it presume to answer all ethical questions.
This Code has three purposes:
1. To provide CCFI ministers with guidelines on which to model our lives and ministries;
2. To stimulate discussion in order to broaden consensus on ethical standards of practice, and to be an aid in training and supervision;
3. To act as an instrument for accountability within ministry, and a basis as needed for disciplinary action. Responsibility for knowing and adhering to this Code rests with us, those who minister in the Church.
II. GENERAL PRINCIPLES
Five key principles form the ethical foundation of this Code. They are: Ecclesial Commitment; Integrity; Respect for Others; Personal Well Being; and Competence.
A. ECCLESIAL COMMITMENT.
As men and women of faith, we who are CCFI ministers, value and embrace the teachings of Jesus, have an intimate knowledge of the scriptures and the teachings of His Church, work to promote the Gospel through our ministries, and strive towards lives of virtue. The Gospel and its values infuse our work of nurturing the life of the community, especially through its ministry of reconciliation. The presence of God is made manifest within a community of faith. Therefore, because of this, we value a deep commitment to the Church and its traditions.
Moreover, we strive to be in service to the larger community, inspired by active reflection on the practical teaching of God’s word. We demonstrate a special care and concern for the needs of the poor and the oppressed of society. We share the spirit of ecumenism in our interactions with other religious groups.
CCFI ministers value integrity, which is to be who we say we are, and to live our moral commitments. Because we belong to a Spirit-Filled Body that sets a high moral standard for its members, as ministers we must strive toward holiness and trustworthiness for ourselves. We are public persons who identify ourselves as followers of Jesus Christ and servants/leaders in our churches. In turn, we must live and minister in a way that is faithful and congruent to that identification. This is exemplified by sound moral principle, uprightness and sincerity, conduct that is honest and consistent, without deception or corruption. Our life and ministry is characterized by service. We handle the responsibilities of our office in a conscientious fashion that gives evidence of the Gospels and a commitment to the mission of Christ’s Church. As commissioned by Abba Father, we lead by word and example, follow the teachings of Jesus our Christ, and rely on Holy Spirit as our guide.
C. RESPECT FOR OTHERS
Church ministers value each individual as a unique creation of God. We respect the rights, dignity, and worth of each individual. We are sensitive to cultural and socioeconomic differences among people, and appreciate the opportunities that diversity offers. We manifest this through careful listening and shared dialogue. Church ministers recognize that issues of aging, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, past experiences, physical and mental disabilities, and language all affect how the message of the Gospel is received and interpreted. Because of this compassionate awareness, we do not discriminate on any basis. However, since a person’s faith, moral conduct, church participation, and adherence to the tenets of the faith may be essential to their role on behalf of the Church, the law does permit religious convictions to be considered in certain hiring, promotion and termination decisions.
D. WELL BEING
As people created by God and given the gift of life, we value our own personal and professional well-being. In order to maintain a strong foundation for our pastoral witness, we must sustain our personal health, spiritual life, and intellectual growth.
1. Personal Health.
We value attending to our own physical and mental health. We respect warning signs in our behavior and moods that might indicate conditions detrimental to our health. We recognize the value in seeking professional help when warning signs surface. We are attentive to alcohol and drug abuse, and other addictions, in ourselves and others, and consider treatment for such a priority. We value healthy limits in our work environment. We value utilizing our allotted time for vacation and days away to replenish our body, mind, and spirit. We support our colleagues in ministry through affirmation, and hold one another accountable for maintaining personal health.
2. Spiritual Life
We value attending to our spiritual life, so as to remain focused in our faith, and in our ministry. We are faithful to attending our local churches, and we take the sacrament of reconciliation seriously. An ongoing prayer life, building our inner-man through the power of Holy Spirit, receiving spiritual advisement from trustworthy colleagues in the gospel, and taking time for annual retreats and days of reflection are important ways of maintaining and nurturing spiritual life.
3. Intellectual Growth
We value our ongoing intellectual development. Utilizing the time and the funding opportunities for ongoing formation to stay current in our fields is encouraged, as are reading religious and professional books and journals, and participating in continuing education programs related to our ministries.
As CCFI ministers, we value personal and professional competence in our particular ministries. It is on the basis of competence and abilities that CCFI and those we serve recognize our positions as CCFI ministers. Competence is acquired and maintained through education, formation, training and skills development, and ongoing certification where appropriate. Competence also means knowing our limitations and remaining within the scope of our duties and skills, making appropriate referrals as needed. Personal and professional assessment of competence, which includes regular performance review, is part of personal development within ministry.
III. ETHICAL STANDARDS IN MINISTRY
All ministerial relationships within a church-related setting require that the highest ethical standards of conduct be maintained at all times and in all relevant areas. These include personal and professional interactions, program leadership, protection of privacy, and response to misconduct.
A. Personal and Professional Interactions.
1. Role Integrity.
CCFI ministers must be faithful to their local churches and to their individual ministerial roles. These roles possess inherent power with corresponding obligations, responsibilities and limitations.
1.1 CCFI ministers must recognize that there is power inherent in their roles that may afford influence over another. They must be sensitive to that relative power and never use it inappropriately. Church ministers must protect the interests of those with lesser power, especially minors, mentally, physically or emotionally incapacitated, or otherwise vulnerable individuals.
1.2 Sexualized interactions with persons who are served, or with whom one works, are never part of the ministerial role, and may incur reporting requirements for misconduct. CCFI ministers who have made a commitment to celibacy are called to witness this charism in all relationships. Likewise, those who have made a marital commitment are called to witness to this fidelity in all their relationships.
1.3 CCFI ministers must protect the confidentiality and privacy rights of others. CCFI ministers must be sensitive to the potential problems inherent in dual relationships, (e.g., pastoral/personal relationships).
2. Conduct in Pastoral Counseling
Pastoral counseling is a specific type of interaction with its own corresponding guidelines. Pastoral counseling includes both professional pastoral counseling and short-term pastoral-care counseling engaged in by qualified pastors, ministers, deacons, pastoral associates, and other qualified individuals for whom this is part of their ministry.
2.1 Any counseling conducted by a CCFI minister on behalf of CCFI must be biblicallybased in nature and must be within the parameters of his or her training. CCFI ministers are expected to seek consultation/supervision and continuing education consistent with their pastor counseling practice. Furthermore, each minister who engages in counseling must be aware of and adhere to his/her state’s guidelines concerning pastoral counseling.
2.2 It must always be clear to both the CCFI minister and the counselee that a counseling relationship is in process. Counseling relationships are characterized by meetings at appropriate times and places, supported by a calendar record of contacts. Counseling should not occur at times or places that would be ambiguous or misleading to the counselee.
2.3 CCFI ministers should not begin a pastoral counseling relationship with someone with whom they have a preexisting business, professional, or social relationship.
2.4 CCFI ministers must respect existing counseling relationships with another professional, and must not start another counseling relationship that would lead to confusion or duplication.
2.5 CCFI ministers must be cognizant at all times of the significance of boundaries in counseling relationships. CCFI ministers should avoid unnecessary social contact with counselees during the course of counseling. Physical contact with counselees can be 5 misconstrued and should be avoided. CCFI ministers must never engage in sexual conduct with those whom they counsel.
2.6 CCFI ministers must not disclose information learned from counseling sessions. In beginning what is clearly a counseling relationship, the CCFI minister must inform the counselee of confidentiality and the limits of confidentiality should a counselee disclose intent to put self and/or otrs in imminent danger. In such cases, the CCFI minister must contact the necessary authorities, with or without the permission of the counselee.
2.7 In conducting group sessions, CCFI ministers must ensure that no individual is subject to trauma or abuse resulting from group interactions. The CCFI minister must state to group participants the nature of the group, and the parameters of confidentiality of all individual disclosures. Group sessions of this type include pastoral counseling groups, as well as other types such as Confirmation groups, Renew groups, and so forth.
2.8 When a CCFI minister’s independent judgment is compromised (e.g., by prior or concurrent personal or professional relationships, when he or she becomes personally involved, or when he or she becomes an advocate for one person against another), the CCFI minister must advise the party/parties that he or she can no longer provide counseling and make a referral to other counselors.
2.9 Any form of pastoral counseling requires knowing the limits of one’s competence, and making appropriate referrals as needed.
2.10 CCFI ministers, who leave their current positions while conducting counseling with parishioners, are expected to offer appropriate referrals for continued care.
3. Conduct with Minors
All interactions with minors deserve special attention.
3.1 Minors should always be viewed, whether in a social or ministerial situation, as “restricted individuals;” that is, they do not have the capacity to make free and voluntary decisions. Wherever they are and whatever they do should be with the explicit knowledge of their parents or guardian.
3.2 In general, two adults should be present in situations involving minors, with the exception of sacramental confession. CCFI ministers should observe the following guidelines:
a. When meeting with a minor, the office door should have a window or be left open. Do not meet with a minor if there are no other adults in the general vicinity.
b. Never visit a minor’s home without at least one other adult present.
c. Avoid driving alone with a minor on a regular basis, or for great distances
d. All outings with minors, such as retreats, youth trips, sports-related activities, and overnight trips, require at least two adults.
e. Sleeping quarters may not be shared with minors, unless accommodations are bunk-style with multiple adults and multiple minors in the same room, each having a separate bed.
f. Locker rooms or other dressing areas must not be shared with minors unless another adult is present.
g. Avoid accompanying children into restrooms without another adult present, unless it is unavoidable.
3.3 Physical force or demeaning language should not be employed in disciplining minors. Physical force should only be used to protect oneself, another innocent party, or a child who is out of control.
3.4 Caution must be exercised in using physical displays of affection, such as hugging, with minors. This gesture has different meanings for different people. Consider the age of the child, the situation, the setting, and your relationship with the child in all cases, as well as whose needs are being met.
3.5 Adult chaperones of youth group activities should maintain a professional presence at all times. Activities, topics or vocabulary that cannot comfortably or appropriately be used in the presence of parents or another adult should not be employed with minors.
3.6 Adults are prohibited from supplying or serving alcohol or any controlled substance to minors. Furthermore, alcohol should never be consumed in the presence of one or more minors by an adult who is functioning in an official capacity with minors.
3.7 If a CCFI minister finds him/herself in an embarrassing, strange, or possibly compromising situation, it should be reported immediately to a supervising colleague, in order to obtain consultation and assistance.
B. RESPONSE TO MISCONDUCT
1. Misconduct of an Illegal Nature. CCFI ministers are required to report, to Church authorities, any behavior by another CCFI minister where there is a credible suspicion of illegal conduct.
2. Ethical Misconduct. Church ministers must notify their supervisors or, if needed, other Church authorities of ethical misconduct by another Church minister.
2.1 When Church ministers are uncertain whether a particular situation or course of conduct would violate this Code of Ethical Standards, they should consult with peers knowledgeable about ethical issues and this Code.
2.2 When Church ministers believe that one of their colleagues may have violated this Code of Ethical Standards, they should make a good faith attempt to resolve the issue, if possible, by bringing it to the attention of the individual. If this fails, the CCFI minister must take further action by reporting to the supervisor or next higher authority.
2.3 In cases where there are clear indicators of unethical, but not illegal actions by a CCFI minister, notification is to be made to a supervisor, or the proper Church authorities.
C. PROGRAM LEADERSHIP
1. Just Treatment.
CCFI ministers must exercise just treatment of all persons whom they encounter in the daily operation and administration of their programs.
1.1 CCFI ministers shall seek to relate to all people with respect, sensitivity and reverence. Meetings are to be conducted with patience and courtesy toward the views of others and in an environment where it is safe for others to offer constructive criticism.
1.2 CCFI ministers shall seek to empower others, supporting each person to live the life to which God calls them. They are to respect the different talents people bring to the God’s Church.
1.3 Personnel and other administrative decisions made by Church ministers should not only meet civil and canon law obligations, but should reflect Kingdom-Principal teachings.
1.4 CCFI ministers must support policies which provide a fair and equal employment setting to every person regardless of race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, marital status, arrest or conviction record, veteran status, handicap status, or any other status protected by law. However, since a person’s faith, moral conduct, church participation, and adherence to the tenets of the faith may be essential to their role on behalf of CCFI or its local churches, the law does permit religious convictions to be considered in certain hiring, promotion and termination decisions.
1.5 CCFI ministers must be committed to establishing and maintaining a professional work environment, which is free from intimidation and harassment. Harassment can occur as the result of a single severe incident, or a pattern of conduct which results in the creation of a hostile, offensive, or intimidating work environment. Harassment encompasses a broad range of physical or verbal behavior, which can include, but is not limited to, the following:
a. physical or mental abuse;
b. racial insults;
c. derogatory ethnic slurs
d. sexual advances or unwelcome touching;
e. sexual comments or sexual jokes;
f. requests for sexual favors used as a condition of employment, or affecting any personnel decision such as hiring, promotion, compensation, or termination.
CCFI ministers must exercise responsible stewardship of all financial and material resources within their area of ministry.
2.1 CCFI ministers must recognize that the resources which support their ministries come in part from contributions; therefore those who benefit from them must ensure that these resources are prudently and responsibly utilized, avoiding mismanagement and waste.
2.2 CCFI ministers must provide a clear accounting of all funds within their control, and they must ensure that adequate systems are in place to protect the Ecclesiastical Body, the local church, and the individual from financial mismanagement.
2.3Independent audits of financial operations are to be conducted on a regular basis.
3. Conflict of Interest.
CCFI ministers must avoid conflicts of interest, since the existence, or even the appearance, of a conflict of interest can call into question the leader’s integrity, and harm the organization’s reputation.
3.1 Situations which have the potential for a conflict of interest include, but are not limited to the following examples:
a. Accepting or giving substantial gifts for services or favors;
b. Acting with partiality toward employees or Church members;
c. Violating a confidence of another for personal gain.
3.2 Disclosure of all relevant factors can, in some circumstances, mitigate the potential for a conflict of interest.
D. PROTECTION OF PRIVACY
Persons who come to a CCFI minister, for assistance or advice, are entering a relationship marked by respect, trust, and confidentiality.
1.1 Information disclosed to a CCFI minister during the course of counseling, advising, spiritual direction, or any other professional contact shall be held in strictest confidence.
1.2 The CCFI minister is required to safeguard the confidentiality of any notes, files, or computer records pertaining to professional contacts with individuals.
1.3 Knowledge that arises from professional contact may be used in teaching, writing and preaching or other public presentations only when effective measures have been taken to safeguard individual identity and confidentiality.
2. Records and Information.
Appropriate confidentiality shall be maintained in creating, storing, accessing, transferring and disposing of parish or institutional records.
2.1 CCFI ministers are to guarantee and safeguard individual personal information including, but not limited to, all information gathered from counseling sessions, staff discussions, home visitations, parishioner relationships, and marriage preparation discussions. Sharing information with others concerning these types of contacts must always be done prudently, and solely for the benefit of the individuals involved.
2.2 CCFI financial records are confidential documents. When legally required, however, these records are to be made available to qualified CCFI or civil authorities.
2.3 The records of individual contributions by church members are to be considered confidential and privileged information. Summarized tabulations of contributions can be used for informational and budgetary use, so long as the identity of individual contributors is not made public. If an individual wishes to have an in-kind or financial contribution made public, a record of that person’s permission should be documented and retained.
2.4 Other CCFI records are to be maintained and kept current which will ensure proper operational integrity, support the mission of the CCFI, and assist in the continuity and transition of the ministry.
Established 07 February 2016 adapted from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, WI. 2. Records