Clergy Boundary Training Policy

This policy was approved by the Southwest Association Committee on Church and Ministry on October 5, 2017.

Healthy boundaries are a critical part of good ministry and comprehensive boundary training is an important way to periodically reflect on our own boundaries as authorized ministers.

To maintain their ministerial standing in the United Church of Christ, the Southwest Association (SWA) requires that all authorized ministers participate in an approved boundary training class every 5 years. This requirement also applies to retired clergy who often officiate for weddings and funerals, fill pulpits, perform baptisms and administer communion in their own and other churches. While these ministries may seem incidental, one cannot underestimate the power a clergy person has even in retirement. The Michigan Conference has in the past offered boundary training specifically oriented to retired clergy in recognition that the issues retired clergy face can be different from those of non-retired clergy.

Authorized boundary training classes include those offered and / or approved by the Michigan Conference. Other classes may be approved by the SWA Committee on Church and Ministry on a case by case basis. A record of training will be maintained by the Association Registrar as well as the Michigan Conference office. It is the responsibility of each minister to provide proof of attendance at an approved training class in a timely manner. If any clergy person is more than one year out of compliance with this requirement, their ministerial standing will be reviewed by the SWA Committee on Church and Ministry and subject to possible suspension.

Exemptions to this training requirement may be given under certain circumstances:
1. retired clergy who are inactive in ministry and who certify that they will not perform any pastoral duties other than services (wedding or funeral) for a family member or preaching in the church where they are a member
2. other situations will be reviewed by the SWA Committee on Church and Ministry on a case by case basis

No clergy person should assume they are exempt if they meet the requirements above. All exemptions must be explicitly approved by the SWA Committee on Church and Ministry. If a clergy person believes they qualify for an exemption, they must submit a written request to the Committee via the Chair person or Association Registrar. Clergy granted an exemption are required to certify annually through the Association Minister Information Review process that the circumstances of the exemption have not changed.