The Uniting Church in Australia Synod of NSW and ACT (the Synod) Lay Specified Ministry of Pastor Handbook is provided as a guide and reference for matters relating to Pastors within the Synod.
*Please note: The sections below are snapshots of the key information in the handbook. Click here for the full handbook.
Pastor is the title of the role a lay person may undertake in the Uniting Church in Australia. If assessed competent, a lay person may be commissioned by a Presbytery or Synod or Assembly, to minister within a Congregation, community or Church based organisation for the purpose of undertaking one or more of the following tasks:
- teaching the beliefs and practices of the Church; and/or
- pastoral oversight of members and / or groups operating under the auspices of the Church; and / or
- leadership of worship in congregations or faith communities of the Church;and / or
- evangelism or service beyond the gathered congregation but which is exercised under the auspices of the Church
Pastors are appointed in consultation with the Presbytery generally the Pastoral Relations Committee (PRC). Reviews are conducted annually by the Presbytery/Appointing body. At the conclusion of an appointment the person ceases to be a pastor but would be eligible to apply for another appointment. There are some prerequisites (i.e. The “Core Competencies”) but most of the training for the Ministry of Pastor is done whilst on the job and is role specific (General Competencies).
Pastors may be full-time or part-time and may be paid or unpaid. Applicants will be a confirmed member or a member in association with the Uniting Church. They will be assessed to see that they are suitable in character, personality and spiritual maturity as well as having the competence and capacity to exercise the responsibilities of the specific ministry to which they are appointed.
Persons who are accountable to the Church under the Pastor Regulations do not have to be called pastor in their ministry. They may be, for example, part-time or full-time paid Youth Workers, Youth and Family Ministry Workers, Chaplain or Pastoral Assistants in a congregation. Any of these descriptors are appropriate.
People exercising ministries that have been designated by the Church as “pastor” shall be identified by their position description, e.g. Youth Worker etc., and not automatically as “pastor”. The important thing is that whatever they are called, such people are in a relationship of accountability with the Church.
Pastor is a Lay Specified Ministry of the Uniting Church in Australia and means a lay person commissioned by a Presbytery, (or a Synod in the case of a Synod appointment, or the Assembly in the case of an Assembly appointment), to minister within a Congregation, community or a Uniting Church based organization for the purpose of undertaking one or more of the following tasks:
- teaching the beliefs and practices of the Uniting Church; and/or
- pastoral oversight of members and/or groups operating under the auspices of the Uniting Church; and/or
- leadership of worship in congregation or faith communities of the Uniting Church; and/or
- evangelism or service beyond a gathered congregation but which is exercised under the auspices of the Uniting Church.
See Regulation 2.2.2(a).
The Presbytery has responsibility for selection and preparation:
- selecting, commissioning, formation, training and supervision of pastors as defined in Regulation;
- assessing an applicant’s competency and capacity to exercise the responsibilities of the specific role to which they may be appointed;
- ensuring that an applicant is suitable in character, personality and spiritual maturity for the specific role to which they may be appointed;
- ensuring that pastors are assessed in Core Competencies for ministry within the Uniting Church in the manner described below;
- ensuring that pastors undertake such training as may be required to achieve Core Competencies within a 3-month period (Reg. 2.6.9(d)). In the case of a Synod or Assembly appointment, the above responsibilities shall be that of the Synod or Assembly rather than the Presbytery.
Competencies for the ministry of pastor consist of the knowledge, skills and other attributes necessary for the specific role to which they are appointed. Appointment and continuing education of pastors shall include assessment of competency for ministry in relation to their specific role.
Regarding the following rules, competency definitions and frameworks will be as defined by the Assembly Ministerial Education Commission (MEC).
These competencies shall cover:
- understanding of the UCA Basis of Union and ethos of the Uniting Church;
- understanding of the UCA Code of Ethics and Ministry Practice for people engaged in professional ministry and the Sexual Misconduct Regulations of the Uniting Church.
- The MEC shall provide a detailed description of the Core Competencies.
- Presbyteries shall assess an applicant’s Core Competencies at the time of appointment. The assessment shall be conducted by persons designated by the Presbytery. The assessment process shall take account of an applicant’s prior learning and experience.
- Applicants who cannot demonstrate competency in the Core Competency areas shall undertake a program of learning provided by bodies approved by the MEC for this purpose.
- The Presbytery shall designate a person or persons to determine the competencies that correspond with the role and tasks required of the pastor in her or his appointment (as described in the job description). These competencies shall be drawn from competency descriptions provided by the MEC as well as those specific to the role. The level of such competencies shall correspond with the level of responsibility contained in the pastor’s role description.
- Following selection of an applicant for appointment as a pastor, the Presbytery shall assess the current competencies of the applicant. The applicant will be asked to provide evidence of current competency including prior learning and experience. The Presbytery will ensure that the assessment principles of validity, sufficiency, fairness and currency are maintained in this process.
- The Presbytery shall ensure that a person with ministry or supervisory experience related to the pastor’s ministry role participates in both the selection and assessment processes. (e.g. youth ministry, chaplaincy)
- The Presbytery, (or the Synod in the case of a Synod appointment, or the Assembly in the case of an Assembly appointment), shall identify the general competencies yet to be developed by the pastor and the time frame within which they shall be acquired.
The Presbytery that has oversight of the pastor, (or the Synod in the case of a Synod appointment, or the Assembly in the case of an Assembly appointment), shall monitor the progress of the pastor to ensure that the relevant competencies are being developed. (Regulation 2.4.3 (c)).
- The Presbytery, in consultation with the pastor, shall develop a learning agreement achieving the general competencies relating to the pastor’s appointment. The nature of the program and supervision shall take into account the pastor’s cultural and educational background. The program may take place through a range of learning methods, formal and informal, including ‘on the job’ learning, and may include a range of learning providers.
- The Presbytery shall provide a time frame in which the pastor shall demonstrate the general competencies which have been identified as yet to be achieved.
- The Presbytery shall:
identify a person or persons who will act on behalf of the Presbytery to monitor the progress of the pastor’s learning program and report back at regular intervals to Presbytery;
- advise the Synod Ministerial Education Board annually of each pastor’s learning agreement and progress and provide feedback concerning the assessment and supervision of pastors.
The Scope of the Learning Program
The learning program shall:
- reflect the commitment of the Uniting Church to work and witness in the fullness of the catholic faith and its evangelical expression in the reformed tradition of the Basis of Union;
- focus on the specific nature and identity of the Ministry of Pastor in relation to his/her appointment;
- reflect an awareness of the specific nature and interrelatedness of ministries in the Uniting Church;
- include the development of competencies in the practice of ministry grounded in deepening biblical and theological understandings;
- take account of the capacities, needs and interests of the pastor; the needs of the Church, the nature of contemporary society and the missional opportunities of the pastor’s appointment;
The Presbytery in discussion with UME shall determine a program of ongoing ministry formation following consultation with the pastor. This program shall consider the spiritual maturity, learning styles, cultural background and needs of the pastor in his or her appointment. Formation in this instance needs to shape the person to serve in the ministry of pastor for a season. It does not seek to shape someone for ‘whole of life’ ministry as is the case for those seeking ordination.
Formation requirements shall be documented in the assessment report which should also identify the continuing education program.
The program shall foster:
- a growing understanding of the nature of the Church, ministry and mission;
- a deepening understanding and experience of the spiritual disciplines;
- the development of the pastor’s identity in ministry in terms of his or her personality, character, gifts, spiritual growth and well-being;
- increasing congruence between belief, knowledge and practice.
- The formation program shall include both individual and communal formation exercises and experiences.
- The formation program, also known as Professional Development, shall consist of at least 50 hours per year for full time roles and for part time roles a pro rata equivalent.
It is important that this formation component is taken very seriously so that the person is able to align themselves with the values and ethos of the Uniting Church. Ensuring provision is made for the person to interact with the various parts of the church so that they can become familiar with the UCA’s inter-conciliar and collaborative processes.
Core Competencies are those areas determined by the UCA Assembly as essential minimum requirements for an appointment for the ministry of pastor. The Assembly has determined that these Core Competencies address two areas: The Basis of Union and UCA ethos, and the UCA Code of Ethics and Ministry Practice. Competencies include knowledge, skills and other abilities.
In assessing Core Competencies, Presbyteries will be asking applicants for evidence of their understanding and ability in the areas listed. Such evidence may be provided in a range of ways including an interview, written statement, or a record of assessment conducted by and training body. Some assessment tools are provided by the MEC to assist with this task. The Presbytery is responsible for determining whether the evidence is sufficient as entry-level competency.
It is also important to note that these Core Competencies are entry-level competencies designed to be applicable to all pastors, regardless of their role. However, some pastor roles will require higher levels of competency with regard to preaching and teaching. Such responsibilities will be outlined in a pastor’s job description and reflected in the General Competencies related to their particular role. A pastor’s suitability for a particular appointment should be assessed in relation to the job responsibilities of the appointment.
Elements of Competency
- Articulate the key theological foundations of the Basis of Union
- Describe key historical elements contributing to the formation of the Uniting Church
- Articulate the place and role of key aspects of the Church’s life and witness, in particular
- Understand the Councils and Ministries of the UCA
Elements of Competency
- Articulate and practice key elements of the UCA understanding of gifts, ministry and service
- Identify the behavioural and boundary issues involved in ministry conduct and accountability in both personal discipleship and professional ministry
- Identify and practice appropriate standards of professional conduct at a level appropriate to the ministry in which the pastor is engaged
2.2.2 (a) Pastor is a specified lay ministry of the Church and means a lay person commissioned by a Presbytery, (or a Synod in the case of a Synod appointment, or the Assembly in the case of an Assembly appointment), to minister within a Congregation, community or Church based organisation for the purpose of undertaking one or more of the following tasks:
- teaching the beliefs and practices of the Church; and / or
- pastoral oversight of members and / or groups operating under the auspices of the Church; and / or
- leadership of worship in congregations or faith communities of the Church; and / or
- evangelism or service beyond a gathered congregation but which is exercised under the auspices of the Church.
(b) No appointment of a person to a remunerated position, which involves the exercise of the responsibilities outlined in Regulation 2.2.2(a), shall be made without prior consultation with the Presbytery (or the Synod in the case of a Synod appointment, or the Assembly in the case of an Assembly appointment).
(c) The Presbytery shall consider designating a ministry location as appropriate for the ministry of Pastor when lay persons are making a significant contribution of their gifts to the Church by fulfilling any of the tasks set out in Regulation 2.2.2(a) in ministry locations designated as appropriate for the ministry of pastor (See Reg. 2.6.9).
2.3.3 (a) A person may make application for the ministry of pastor by applying for a ministry appointment that is designated by the Presbytery, (or the Synod in the case of a Synod appointment, or the Assembly in the case of an Assembly appointment), as appropriate for the exercise of the ministry of pastor.
(b) In considering and determining applications made under Regulation 2.3.3(a) the appointing body shall have reference to:
- confidential testimonials, supplied at the request of the appointing body, from an appropriate minister; and the Church Council of the applicant’s Congregation;
- the gifts and graces appropriate to the particular expression of the ministry of pastor for which the person is applying;
- the applicant’s spiritual maturity and sense of call;
- the applicant’s capacity for exercising this ministry and perceived potential to meet the required competencies for the ministry of pastor;
- the applicant’s personality and character; and
- the applicant’s willingness to accept the doctrine, polity and discipline of the Church.
2.4.3 Core competencies means those competencies determined by the Assembly as essential for all persons that exercise the ministry of pastor.
General competencies mean those competencies determined by the Assembly as essential for all persons exercising a particular ministry role, for example chaplain, youth worker, etc.
(a) A pastor shall develop the general competencies identified by the Assembly as appropriate for the particular ministry in which the pastor is engaged.
(b) The Presbytery, (or the Synod in the case of a Synod appointment, or the Assembly in the case of an Assembly appointment), shall identify the general competencies yet to be developed by the pastor and the time frame within which they shall be acquired.
(c) The Presbytery that has oversight of the pastor, (or the Synod in the case of a Synod appointment, or the Assembly in the case of an Assembly appointment), shall monitor the progress of the pastor to ensure that the relevant competencies are being developed.
2.6.9 (a) A ministry location shall be designated as an appropriate appointment for the exercise of the ministry of pastor for the purposes of these Regulations when:
- the position description of the role the person undertakes includes one or more of the tasks named in Regulation 2.2.2; and the Presbytery, (or Synod in the case of a Synod appointment, or Assembly in the case of an Assembly appointment) designates that the position description and ministry location are suitable for the exercise of the ministry of pastor; or
- a lay person is appointed to fill an approved placement.
(b) When the Presbytery, (or Synod in the case of a Synod appointment, or Assembly in the case of an Assembly appointment), has resolved to recognise a ministry location as appropriate for the exercise of the ministry of pastor, it shall advise the faith community, congregation(s) or other appropriate body and the Placements Committee.
(c) Before making an appointment the appointing body should satisfy itself that the applicant has been able to demonstrate the core competencies of the ministry of pastor.
(d) Where an applicant cannot demonstrate the core competencies the Presbytery (or the Synod in the case of a Synod appointment, or the Assembly in the case of an Assembly appointment), may grant permission to make the appointment subject to a six month probation period by the end of which time the person shall have demonstrated the core competencies.
2.7.4 (a) The Presbytery, (or the Synod in the case of a Synod appointment, or the Assembly in the case of an Assembly appointment), shall approve the terms and conditions of appointment.
(b) The appointment shall be subject to regular evaluation by the Presbytery, (or the Synod in the case of a Synod appointment, or the Assembly in the case of an Assembly appointment), in consultation with the pastor and the Congregation or other appropriate body.
2.8.2 The Presbytery, (or the Synod in the case of a Synod appointment, or the Assembly in the case of an Assembly appointment), shall be responsible for conducting a service of commissioning. The commissioning service shall be conducted on the commencement of an appointment of a pastor and in accordance with a form authorised by the Assembly.
2.9.2 (a) A pastor shall be accountable to the Presbytery which has oversight of the pastor in matters of faith and discipline and to the appointing body for the exercise of their ministry.
(b) Pastors are subject to the Code of Ethics and Part 5 of these Regulations.
2.9.4 A pastor shall be:
(a) included on the roll of confirmed members, or members-in-association, of a Congregation in which the pastor is serving, or, where the appointment is other than in a Congregation, included on the roll of confirmed members, or members-in-association, of the Congregation with which the pastor chooses to be actively involved;
(b) a member of the Church Council of the Congregation in which the pastor is serving, if serving in a congregational context unless the Presbytery, after consultation with the Congregation, determines otherwise;
(c) a member of the Presbytery (See Reg. 3.3.4(c)(i)), and eligible for election as a lay member of the Synod and the Assembly.
2.10.2 The recognition of a pastor shall cease upon:
(a) the acceptance by the appointing body of the pastor’s resignation from a ministry location which has been designated as appropriate for the ministry of pastor;
(b) the determination by the Presbytery, (or the Synod in the case of a Synod appointment, or the Assembly in the case of an Assembly appointment), that the general competencies identified by the Assembly as appropriate for the particular ministry in which the pastor is engaged have not been demonstrated within the period of time determined by the Presbytery, (or the Synod in the case of a Synod appointment, or the Assembly in the case of an Assembly appointment);
(c) the termination of the appointment of the pastor for whatever reason; or
(d) the determination of the Committee for Discipline pursuant to Regulation 5.7.4(r)(vi), subject to the Regulations relating to appeal. Where a pastor is appointed to an approved placement the Regulations related to the termination of a placement shall not apply.
The Synod of NSW and the ACT determines that for a person to be considered for classification as a Religious Practitioner the role must first be approved by ACOMP through its Executive. The role and person must be guided by the Basis of Union, operate under and comply with the Uniting Church in Australia Code of Ethics and Ministry Practice, as amended from time to time by Assembly and accept the discipline of the Church.
On fulfilment of the above criteria prior to the classification being ratified the requirements of the role, skills and experience of the person must be assessed against the requirements of the Australian Tax Office definition of a Religious Practitioner to determine percentage of role capable of being able to receive available religious practitioner taxation benefits.
Please note, a Religious Practitioner and remuneration being paid under the ATO Religious Practitioner tax concession benefits are an employee of the Church, and not an ordained minister of the Uniting Church in Australia or the recipient of a Stipend.
Christ chose some of us to be apostles, prophets, missionaries, pastors, and teachers, so that his people would learn to serve, and his body would grow strong. Ephesians 4:11
Such passages of Scripture are often cited in any call for ministry. Whether ordained or lay, we are called to proclaim God’s message in whatever context we are located. The call to the Lay Specified Ministry of Pastor (MoP) is a call to respond to a particular context for a limited period of time. Pastors are not expected to give their life to this expression of ministry – it is for a season. It is particular – whether it is serving as a Chaplain in a prison or aged care home, or as a youth and family worker – there are set responsibilities that shape this ministry. When payment is involved, the ministry of pastor is an employed position with an employment contract issued by the Synod. Where a person is undertaking the responsibilities of the ministry of pastor without payment, it is a volunteer role and will be conducted according to a volunteer agreement provided by the Synod.
In the Synod of NSW and the ACT, “pastor’ is not used as a formal title. It is the designation given to a particular role. A ministry of pastor position is often the result of an advertised vacancy. It is not the call to be a pastor that attracts an applicant, but the nature of the work involved. For example, an aged care chaplain responds to the invitation to serve the residents of an aged care facility, rather than seeking to become a ‘pastor’.
The ministry of pastor is an internal church process that enables us to recognize this ministry in ways that respect the employment process yet enable Agency, Congregation, Presbytery and Synod to work together as required. For example, a Chaplain who is not ordained may be required to conduct Holy Communion in an aged care facility. They cannot do this without Presbytery Pastoral Relations Committee giving permission.
Most Presbyteries require the position to be recognized as ministry of pastor for such authorisation to be given. In such an instance, there shall be clear rationale as to how the designation of pastor enhances the delivery of ministry.
(that also seeks recognition as a Religious Practitioner under the ATO 2019 Rulings).
Note: Any ministry of pastor position that does not also include recognition as a Religious Practitioner (RP) is overseen by the Presbytery and has no need to refer to the Advisory Committee on Ministerial Placements (ACOMP).
- Pastors are accountable to the Presbytery for faith and discipline and to the Church Council or employing body for the exercise of their ministry. (Regulation 2.9.2 (a))
- Pastors must abide by the Code of Ethics and Ministry Practice of the UCA and participate in the Ethical Ministry Refresher workshops – twice each year. (Regulation 2.9.2 (b))
- Pastors are required under the Code of Ethics to participate in regular Professional Supervision.
- Soon after Commissioning, the mentor will discuss with the pastor, PRC and the Church Council, Agency or employing body, what further training in the General Competencies the pastor needs for them to carry out for their ministry. A Learning Agreement is then drawn up between the relevant stakeholders, i.e., pastor, the Church Council, PRC, Agency, and Synod. The Learning Agreement will document any ongoing education, training and formation the pastor is required to complete and the specified time frame. The Learning Agreement will allow for at least 50 hours per year pro rata of ongoing education, training and formation. (Regulation 2.4.3 (b) and (c))
- Annually the PRC, in consultation with the congregation or employing body and Synod, will evaluate the ministry of the pastor including assessment of progress in relation to the Learning Agreement and development of General Competencies. (Regulation 2.7.4 (b)).
- A pastor position may be terminated for the following reasons:
- The Church Council or employing body accept a letter of resignation from the position
- ACOMP Exec, acting on behalf of the Presbytery, determines that the General Competencies needed for the position have not been demonstrated within the agreed time frame, according to the Learning Agreement
- The pastor is subject to disciplinary action under the Uniting Church Code of Ethics and Ministry Practice.
Refer Assembly Rules in this handbook
- Level of Written and Verbal Communication Skills
- Requirement for a Driver’s License – Yes / No
- Current Working with Children Check or Working with Vulnerable Persons Check
- Ability to work with particular computer software
- Qualifications e.g., Clinical Pastoral Education; Certificate IV in Christian Ministry and Theology
- Flowcharts for processes supporting School and Uniting interaction with Presbyteries
- Regulation 2.2.2 (b) page 6 of this handbook
Refer Synod website for copies of:
- ATO TR 2019/3 p. 4
- ATO TR 2019/3 p. 8
(Not seeking recognition as a Religious Practitioner under the ATO 2019 Rulings)
Seeking recognition as a Religious Practitioner under the ATO 2019 Rulings
Professional supervision is defined in the Code of Ethics and Ministry Practice (3.9(c)) as a relationship with a supervisor to assist in enhancing the quality of ministry by enabling the pastor to maintain the boundaries of the pastoral relationship, and to intentionally reflect on their ministry practice and context.
As part of their self-care, all employed pastors have a responsibility to ensure they receive regular professional supervision. It is also a requirement of the Code of Ethics and Ministry Practice that all those in active ministry meet regularly with a Professional Supervisor (COEMP 3.8(b) and 3.9(c)(d)).
The appointing body generally meets the cost of Professional Supervision for pastors up to an amount determined by appointing body. Often this is about $850pa. The purpose of Professional Supervision is to ensure that each ministry practitioner maintains high ethical standards, reflects on the quality of their ministry, and engages in ongoing formation and education.
Professional Supervision for employed pastors is compulsory. It allows for the Synod to:
- Have a consistent practice and expectation of informed ethical ministry practice
- Ensure a high standard of supervision by requiring professional supervision from a qualified supervisor, or a Supervisor trained and authorised by the Synod
- Have a Presbytery record of the name and qualification of supervisor
- Receive a signed certification from the Supervisor as to the number of sessions attended each year, which would also be added to the pastors Presbytery records.
Eight (8) supervised sessions per year is the minimum expectation. It is acknowledged that those in a rural and/or isolated community may experience difficulty in accessing supervision and may have to look at different options. Ideally supervision will take the form of face-to-face contact with supervisors, however a number of different models exist that may involve phone or skype supervision. Peer supervision or peer group supervision is no longer considered professional in its delivery. Supervision should be a regular commitment, ideally every month to six weeks.
At the 1997 Assembly, the Uniting Church affirmed the importance of continuing education and requested all pastors (and ministers) to enter into continuing education learning agreements with Presbytery in order to enhance professional development and skills required for ministry (Regulation 2.2.1 (xi)).
Due to the changing nature of society and the role, purpose and value of the Church within it, it is vital for those in ministry to be able to respond to, and minister effectively. All employed pastors are expected to engage in 50 hours of continuing education pro rata (CoEMP 1.7; 3.4a). This will include the fulfilment of General Competencies as well as an annual retreat appropriate to the role in which the pastor is serving.
As part of the Church’s commitment to working with Government, the following obligations are part of any pastor’s legal and ethical responsibility:
- National Police Check (if required)
- Working with Children and/or Working with Vulnerable Persons Check
- Mandatory Reporting
Certain parts of the church may require a police check, i.e., Uniting. Should this be required, guidance will be provided as to process.
NSW Requirements: The Working with Children Check (WWCC) is a legal requirement for every ministry agent of a religious body within NSW, regardless of whether they are directly engaged with children in ministry. If you are engaged in remunerated ministry an Employment WWCC must be held. If you are serving as a volunteer with no remuneration received a Volunteer WWCC must be held.
The outcome of a check is either a clearance to work with children or a bar against working with children. If cleared, the check will be valid for five years, however applicants are continuously monitored.
ACT Requirements: The Working with Vulnerable People Check (WWVP) is a legal requirement for for every ordained minister of a religious body within the ACT, regardless of whether they are directly engaged with vulnerable people in ministry.
The outcome of a check is either a clearance to work with vulnerable people or a bar against working with vulnerable people. If cleared, the check will be valid for three years, however applicants are continuously monitored.
NSW and ACT: Some ministry agents will need to obtain both WWCC and WWVP due to their geographical location. For example, a pastor working in Goulburn or Queanbeyan may minister in NSW and ACT, and so would be required to obtain both Checks.
Responsibilities: It is not possible to engage in any form of ministry without holding a current WWCC/WWVP. Failure to hold a valid check is an offence. Penalties range from fines to imprisonment.
It is the responsibility of each ministry agent to pay for and maintain a current WWCC/WWVP and to lodge and maintain their WWCC/WWVP number and expiry date with both Presbytery and Secretariat. A copy of the WWVP Card must be sent to Presbytery and Secretariat for verification.
Any ministry agent within the Synod of NSW and the ACT with an expired WWCC/WWVP will be immediately stood aside from all ministry duties, at the appointing body’s expense, until the renewed check has been updated and validated. Should this not be immediately rectified, the placement and/or Presbytery may consider termination of placement.
Mandatory reporting is a term used to describe the legislative requirement for selected groups of people to report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect to government authorities. All ordained ministry agents, commissioned Ministry of Pastor and anyone who works with children in a paid or voluntary capacity are Mandatory Reporters.
It is the responsibility of every specified ministry agent to be aware of the Mandatory Reporting requirements within their State, Territory and Synod. Where a Mandatory Report concerns a ministry agent, volunteer, or employee, they may also be the subject of a Reportable Conduct complaint.
A mandatory reporter must report suspected abuse against a child regardless of whether it happened in a church context or not. Reports are made to the Dept of Communities and Justice (NSW) & Child and Youth Protective Services (ACT)
Any allegations against an employee, volunteer, or ministry agent of the Uniting Church involving misconduct towards a child, must be immediately reported by the Employer to the Office of the Children’s Guardian (NSW) or Ombudsman (ACT)
Mandatory reporters are encouraged to seek support for vicarious trauma which may arise out of dealing with child protection concerns. Support can be provided by the Synod Employee Assistance Program or further guidance can be given by the Synod Safe Church Unit.
A range of church policies and guidelines exist to support safe church practice. It is the responsibility of every ministry agent to be informed of such resources as may exist from Assembly and the Synod of NSW and the ACT.
Employers must report allegations, offences or convictions relating to child-related misconduct by ‘employees’ of the Uniting Church to the relevant authority.
Misconduct may be of a sexual, physical, or psychological nature. All allegations of reportable conduct will be investigated and reports on the investigation made to the Ombudsman in the ACT or to the Office of the Children’s Guardian in NSW.
You don’t need to be paid to be considered an ‘employee.’
In NSW anyone required to hold a Working with Children Check falls under the definition of ‘employee,’ while in the ACT an ‘employee’ is a minister of religion, religious leader or an officer of the religious body, a person engaged under a contract of employment, or a person engaged to provide services other than under a contract of employment.
A policy and guidelines exist for NSW and the ACT regarding Reportable Conduct and it is the responsibility of ministry agents to be informed about their responsibilities.
‘Discipline in the church is the exercise of spiritual authority with a view to honouring Christ the Head of the Church and ensuring the spiritual well-being of its members.’ Reg 5.1.2. As part of the commissioning liturgy, every pastor pledges to submit to the discipline and authority of the church.
The expectations of how a specified ministry agent should behave are recounted in the Code of Ethics and Ministry Practice (CoEMP).
Any breach of the CoEMP can become grounds for a complaint against a pastor or minister.
Participating in a discipline process can range from uncomfortable to deeply painful and each of the discipline committees have different regulations to guide and assist in the process.
There are three synod discipline committees:
- Committee for Counselling (C4C)
- Synod Sexual Misconduct Complaints Committee (SSMCC)
- Committee for Discipline C4D)
Any complaint made against an ordained minister of the Uniting Church in Australia, or a lay person commissioned into the ministry of pastor, and which is unable to be resolved at a local or Presbytery level will be sent to the C4C or SSMCC. Both committees seek reconciliation and healing, enabling all parties to move forward in positive ways.
This is not always possible and so, should it be necessary, a matter may be referred to the C4D. This is a more formal process and can involve legal representation.
The Synod of of NSW & the ACT has established a specific working group for the Ministry of Pastor. This working group is a Sub-committee of the Synod Standing Committee. You can contact this group via the email email@example.com or the Chairperson of the working group, the Associate Secretary.
If you would like more information about any aspect of the Ministry of Pastor please contact:
Ministry of Pastor Facilitator, UME - Joanna Drayton
firstname.lastname@example.org or 0419 632 888
Associate Secretary - Rev. Bronwyn Murphy
email@example.com or 8267 4327
Further information about the Rules and Competencies related to the
Lay Specified Ministry of Pastor can be found on the Uniting Church in Australia Assembly’s website:
Information about The Ministry of the Laity in the UCA can be found: