Congregations are relational spaces that rely on the integrity of individuals to create a community grounded in covenant, compassion and mutual trust. Sometimes, many times in fact, our sense of trust in individuals, leaders or the organization is damaged in ways that test the sense of personal, emotional safety we have come to count on. Inappropriate behavior by individuals, conflict or dysfunctional congregational systems, or misconduct on the part of ministers and staff are all examples of situations that can arise and cause a loss of trust. These are challenging and difficult times that often result in the loss of relationships that we treasure or even the departure of ministers, staff or members we have come to love. No congregation should have to handle these situations on their own and a call to your Primary Contact can provide guidance, resources and pastoral support for leaders.
Many of our congregations have experienced harm in the past. When that harm has been caused by a Religious Professional, such as a Minister, a Religious Educator, or a Professional Musician, it can have long lasting impacts upon a congregation’s ability to trust each other and future Religious Professionals. While there are resources and trainings available to help congregations to return to health after (or after discovering) professional misconduct, it is important to engage with the congregation’s Primary Contact about what support would be helpful, as every situation is different. And if your congregation has experienced recent or current misconduct by a religious professional, you can report it through the UUA’s Process for Handling Complaints of Misconduct.