Guidelines on Screening Practices

For Unitarian Universalist Association Organizations When Adding Clergy, Professional Leaders, Staff, and Volunteers

Authored by: Tracey Robinson-Harris, Director, Congregational Services Staff Group; Harlan Limpert, Director, District Services Staff Group; Beth Miller, Director, Ministry and Professional Leadership Staff Group; John Weston, Settlement Director

What is the challenge? In the absence of Unitarian Universalist Association recommended guidelines to follow when calling ministers, hiring professional leaders and church staff, and recruiting volunteers, congregations and other UUA organizations may be reluctant to conduct warranted screening of ministers, employees, and volunteers.

Why is the lack of screening a problem? Failure to institute uniform screening procedures can result in unnecessary risks for vulnerable members of the UUA community as well as an unnecessary risk of legal liability for congregations and other UU organizations. Legal liability turns on whether or not, when a congregation or organization gives a person access to vulnerable members, it took appropriate steps to protect those members from harm.

How can this problem be addressed? Only by adopting appropriate screening guidelines and following the procedures they call for will these risks be minimized.

Who ought to take responsibility for implementing this effort? The decision to adopt guidelines and the responsibility for implementing them will be up to the governing board of each congregation, associate member organization, independent affiliate organization, and related organization, to each District board, and to the Unitarian Universalist Association Board of Trustees on behalf of the Association, the Ministerial Fellowship Committee, the Religious Education Credentialing Committee, and the Sponsored Organizations. Although each congregation or organization retains the discretion to adopt or reject this policy, we urge you to consider the potential ramifications of your decision.

When should this problem be addressed? Before it is time to regret the failure to act in time.