The AWA, seeking to promote integrity in both the practice of spiritual counseling and in the ministrations of interfaith ministers and interfaith ministries, has established this code of ethics for interfaith ministers and spiritual counselors. Bound by the following precepts which respect the fundamental rights, dignity and worth of all people, we dedicate ourselves to excellence in the performance of our professional service, and to living in a way which respects the fundamental dignity and worth of all people as defined by the state, province or country within which the AWA member lives.
- We commit to cultivating inclusivity and practicing non-discrimination in our service to others: We agree not to discriminate against anyone on the basis of age, color, gender, race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, economic status, mental, or physical ability.
- We commit to cultivating clarity of mind and understanding, and refraining from misuse of intoxicating/ mind-altering substances: We agree not to use intoxicating/mind-altering substances before or during Ministerial Practices or Functions. We further agree not to misuse such substances at any time. Any substance abuse problem may be brought in confidence to the attention of the ethics committee.
- We commit to cultivating and maintaining healthy physical and emotional boundaries in our professional relationships. In particular, we commit to refraining from causing harm or pain through sexual misconduct: Acknowledging that a sexual relationship between a Minister and a congregant or a spiritual counselor and a client is inappropriate, we agree to avoid creating harm through sexuality. We therefore agree to avoid sexual harassment, exploitation, or advances towards clients. We also agree to refrain from accepting advances from any client. We agree that, should such a relationship develop, we will not pursue it until the counselor/client relationship has ended, preferably not for a year.
- We commit to cultivating and practicing honest, loving, and responsible communication; we commit to refraining from gossip and other forms of harmful speech: We agree to speak that which is true and useful and to refrain from gossip. We agree to cultivate conscious and clean communication and to further develop the quality of loving kindness and honesty as the basis for our speech.
- We commit to acting with professional integrity and refrain from misrepresenting ourselves: On one level, we agree not to plagiarize the work of another by using material without citing the author, source, publisher, and copyright date. On another, we agree to avoid claiming, directly or indirectly through implication, any professional qualifications that exceed those we have already obtained. In addition, we agree not to misrepresent ourselves in any advertising, website, media, or communications.
- We commit to respecting our need for ongoing professional guidance and support and to availing ourselves of supervision: We acknowledge the need for supervision and guidance beyond our years of study, as situations may arise in our own ministries and counseling practices that challenge our personal judgment and go beyond our professional abilities. Because of this, we agree to have a supervisor we can call upon to advise us in these circumstances.
- We commit to creating safe and sacred space for growth and healing by maintaining confidentiality: We acknowledge the sacred relationship that exists between a spiritual counselor and a client, between a minister and the community served. In order to facilitate the creation of a safe space in which dreams and ideas, doubts and confusions, and actual life experiences can be shared, we consider it of fundamental importance to keep the information entrusted to us in the strictest confidence. We therefore agree to discuss such privileged conversation with no one, except, and only on rare occasions, with our supervisor or the ethics committee.
- We commit to upholding the ethical principles of the spiritual path we follow: Since the moral outlooks of most religions are basically quite similar. Whether our own practice are based on the Ten Commandments, the Eightfold Path, the yoga sutras of Patanjali, or any other moral guidelines, we agree to allow their ethical principles to guide our thoughts, our words, and our actions.
- We commit to ongoing spiritual growth and deepening of our understanding and practice: As ministers and spiritual counselors, we agree to continue our spiritual practice in order to deepen our connection to our Divine Source and to each other.
- We commit to continuing education and ongoing professional development: We understand that there is always more to learn. Therefore, we agree to dedicate ourselves to continued education in graduate studies, retreats, workshops, or whatever other form that takes.
- We commit to living the values of compassion, tolerance, respect, and open-mindedness: As we are affiliated with an interfaith organization that includes all religions and belief systems in its embrace of spirituality, we agree to live by this vision of inclusiveness, excluding no person or group from our own concept of spirituality.
- We commit to the reporting of any abuse or ethical violations, with the intention of promoting healing for those involved: We agree not to interfere in the personal affairs of AWA members unless we feel someone is placed in danger or that the ethical standards of the AWA have been compromised. In such a case, we agree to report the incident to the AWA Board Chair, the ethics committee and/ or the proper authorities.
GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE FOR ETHICAL CONCERNS OR VIOLATIONS OF THE CODE OF ETHICS
We believe that it is best, whenever possible, for difficulties arising between individuals to be addressed directly by the individuals involved, as lovingly and responsibly as possible. When necessary, mediation and/or facilitation of this process by the AWA Ethics Committee can and should be sought by the individuals involved.
If a resolution acceptable to the people involved cannot be reached, the situation may be brought to the attention of the AWA Ethics Committee.
It is felt that situations involving potential legal ramifications are beyond the purview of the AWA Board of Directors. Such circumstances will be reviewed by the AWA Ethics Committee who will decide if the situation needs to be dealt with by the AWA member’s Seminary and/or local authorities.
Adopted by the Board of Directors of the A World Alliance of Interfaith Clergy at a regularly called board meeting on April 13, 2010.
This code of ethics was drafted for AWAIC by World Council of Interfaith Seminaries.