Those who minister in the Uniting Church are in a pastoral relationship with those in their ministry placement, and with any others who come to them for spiritual care or support. They have a particular place in the community, with responsibility to ensure that they embody integrity, trust and compassion in all their relationships. Supervision in ministry is a gift that assists those in specified ministries to serve faithfully and effectively.
Professional Supervision – an Assembly document
The Uniting Church in Australia defines professional supervision as “the relationship Ministers* have with another professional whereby the Minister* is assisted to maintain the boundaries of the pastoral relationship and the quality of ministry” (Code of Ethics and Ministry Practice, 2009, 3.9(c), p.6).
The Code of Ethics and Ministry Practice requires that Ministers* demonstrate professionalism in all the tasks of ministry. Section 3 on Professional Conduct provides standards for one’s relationships with colleagues and councils of the church, for one’s teaching and competence, and for the exercise of one’s power, confidentiality and self-care. These are critical dimensions of one’s ministry for monitoring in supervision.
The Code of Ethics and Ministry Practice requires that, as part of their self-care, “Ministers* have a responsibility to ensure that they receive regular professional supervision” (3.8(b) and 3.9(c)(d)). There are a number of dimensions of ministry specifically named in the Code as worthy of attention in supervision.
– “competencies, me management, priorities and any difficulties arising in ministry” (3.9(c)) and the appropriateness of a particular relationship (4.4(b)). In addition, “Ministers* shall discuss with their supervisor any ongoing situations of conflict in which they are involved in the course of their work” (3.9(e)).
Section 3.4(a) reads, “Ministers* have a responsibility to maintain high standards of knowledge and skills in all the areas of ministry relevant to their placement. This responsibility requires that Ministers* undertake continuing education appropriate to this ministry”.
The Code of Ethics and Ministry Practice further acknowledges that;
Ministry is accountable to the wider councils of the church,
Ministry should not be fulfilled in isolation,
Mutual accountability requires continuing competence in ministry and appropriate resourcing of people in ministry with a variety of skills,
Supervision will vary from minister to minister and placement to placement,
Supervision may be supplemented by a mentor or spiritual director or coach, where the distinctiveness of each role needs to be clarified for those involved,
Supervision is a regular commitment,
Supervisors should be trained for the role of supervision, and
The supervisory relationship requires good communication, the challenge to reflect constructively, and an understanding of the ethos of the Uniting Church and the role and responsibility of the person in ministry.
* The term Minister/minister includes Pastors, Candidates, Deacons, Ministers of the Word, Youth Workers and Community Ministers.