Professional Misconduct: Frequently Asked Questions
What does "Professional Misconduct" mean?
In this context, Professional Misconduct means misconduct by a UU Religious Professional. Please contact the Intake person for more details.
Who is a Religious Professional?
In this context, the term “religious professional” refers to:
- UUA ministers in preliminary fellowship or full fellowship with the UUA, Aspirants and Candidates for the ministry, can all be termed religious professionals. The UUA uses the UUMA Guidelines and Ministerial Fellowship Rules and Policies as a guide for ministerial complaints.
- Religious Educators who are who are credentialed with the Unitarian Universalist Association. The UUA uses the Religious Education Credentialing Committee Rules and Polices as a guide for these complaints.
What about Music Directors and Non-Credentialed Religious Educators?
What are the limits to the term: “Religious Professional” in this context?
Ministers not in fellowship with the UUA, Religious Educators who are not members of LREDA, and Music Directors who are not members of the AUUMM are accountable only to their local congregations
Who is a UUA Consultant: In this context a UUA Consultant can mean either an external consultant or a staff member of the Ministries and Faith Development staff group.
What is an Advocate: Advocates are trained lay leaders and ministers who accompany a complainant through their discernment and through the complaint process. Advocates are assigned by the Intake Person. If you aren’t sure whether you wish to file a complaint you may ask for an advocate to help you decide.
The Intake Person is the primary point of contact at the UUA for any person wishing to report an instance of misconduct by a religious professional. The Intake Person reports to the Executive Vice President of the UUA. The UUA Intake person triages complaints and manages the initial complaint process. The current Intake Person is Heather Bond, Safer Congregations Program Manager. They can be reached at (617) 948-6462 or safecongregations [at] uua [dot] org
What is the Intake Process? What does it mean that the UUA Intake Person triages complaints?
The UUA Intake Person hears the complaint, provides information on the process and responds to questions from the complainant. This can be a complex process and the Intake person is available for phone calls to review, answer questions, clarify, or otherwise inform a potential complainant of the process.
At the intake stage the UUA Intake Person has the discretion to refer matters not suitable for adjudication by the Ministerial Fellowship Committee (MFC), LREDA, or the AUUMM, to other resources such as Congregational Life Staff and the Ministries and Faith Development staff.
If a complaint has the potential to be suitable for adjudication, other resources may be consulted, including the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association (UUMA), LREDA, Advocates, Good Offices, etc.
At any point in the process the UUA Intake Person may consult with the Co-Director for Ministries and Faith Development, the Director for Congregational Life, and/or the UUA Executive Vice President.
Once the complainant decides to make an official complaint, the complaint is then referred to a UUA Investigative Consultant. An official complaint must be made in writing. It can be submitted via U.S. Mail or emailed to safecongregations [at] uua [dot] org. The mailing address is: Heather Bond, Office of Ethics and Safety/ UUA, 24 Farnsworth Street, Boston, MA 02210.
What happens to a complaint once it's in the hands of the UUA Investigative Consultant?
When/if a complaint is received in writing the religious professional is informed of the complaint. Their supervisor or Board President is also informed. At the discretion of the Co-Director of Ministries and Faith Development and/or the Investigative Consultants, prior congregations’ boards may also be contacted.
If the complaint warrants, the UUA Investigative Consultant will conduct interviews and other fact-finding activities. It is the Consultant's responsibility to define the scope of the case to be presented to the MFC.
If it is determined that the case is to be adjudicated by the MFC, the UUA Consultant will present a report to be read by the Executive Committee of the MFC. The Consultant may decide to exclude certain parts of a complaint that are not supported by evidence developed during an investigation.
In cases to be investigated and possibly adjudicated by the MFC, the Advocate is the complainant’s point of contact and communication between the UUA Consultant, the Complainant, and those involved in the process on behalf of the UUA.
All participants in any complaint process will be informed that confidentiality may be breached if the UUA Consultant or Intake Person deems it necessary to protect against harm.
What is the Ministerial Fellowship Committee (MFC)?
The Ministerial Fellowship Committee (MFC) has jurisdiction over all phases of ministerial credentialing. Candidates for ministerial fellowship are interviewed by the Committee before fellowship is granted. Additionally, the MFC has the authority to remove ministerial fellowship.
What is LREDA? Liberal Religious Educators Association (LREDA) Since 1949, the Liberal Religious Educators Association—originally Unitarian Education Directors' Association (UEDA)—has worked to bring religious educators together for support, continued learning, and transformation
What is the AUUMM? The Association for UU Music Ministries (formerly UU Musicians Network) supports music and worship arts professionals, leaders, and those they serve through advocacy, education, and inspiration.
What is the role of the UUA?
The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is an association of member congregations. The role of the UUA is to provide support to its member congregations. It does not govern them. In our tradition of congregational polity, each member congregation has the power to ordain, call/hire, supervise and dismiss ministers and other staff; and to do so independently of the UUA. It is the congregation, not the Association, that takes responsibility for regulation of its own policies and staff.