CODE OF CONDUCT FOR ALL CLERGY
1) All clergy are deemed to visit the Church web site regularly, in order to remain updated about pertinent information. As a representative of our diocese all clergy will be expected by others to answer questions about the Exarchate.
2) Clergy will avoid mixing the clerical office with organizations, entities or agendas that are incompatible with spiritual aims and those of our Exarchate in particular. Clergy may not use their credentials and status for monetary gain or to solicit funds of a group, whose purposes are different from those of the Exarchate.
3) Clergy should maintain regular contact with the bishop, who is available to support spiritual life by addressing any concerns and ministerial matters. If questions of starting a new ministry or leading a community arise, the bishop will direct.
4) Every member is advised to be very mindful when working with people. There may be serious liability issues to be concerned about when and if one gives life-altering advice. For instance: (a) We never suggest to anyone to divorce their partner or to resign from employment; (b) We never give advice that is reserved to other professions (beyond suggesting someone may wish to seek professional counseling, medical or legal advice).
5) Clergy should purchase clerical insurance, if they work with a high-risk group of people. There are several companies that handle this type of insurance.
6) Clergy are expected to attend to their postal as well as electronic emails, weighing carefully what to say or how to respond. They keep in mind that written words can be misleading and easily misunderstood. Different people may interpret the tone of an email in various ways. Clergy therefore should never write when struggling with anger, but meditate and pray until the mind is clear or calm.
7) Clergy will keep their daily practice faithfully according to the guidelines of this diocese. Each clergy person must keep a beneficial spiritual balance towards others, who are in their care, as well as to the respective environment of all people.
8) Clergy will not engage in politics. This does not mean they should not vote, but rather they are required to never mix their religious status with any form of political agenda.
9) Clergy of our Exarchate are expected not to affiliate with another religious entity that is incompatible with the tenets, Canons and guidelines of the Eastern Orthodox Church. There is no need to contrast one faith or sect with another. People may adhere to differing Bible interpretations or non-orthodox theology, which needs to be respected as such, whether or not we agree with all of its tenets. This applies to all Christian branches and even other religions.
10) Sometimes concerns may arise within the Church as to the activities or behavior of other clergy. They will bring such issues directly to the bishop and refrain from discussing matters with other clergy or individuals inside or outside the jurisdiction.
11) Any congregation or ministry may choose to form their own legal entity in the State, in which they reside as a charitable, nonprofit, religious organization. This may give better means in recruiting tax-deductible donations to support their local congregation or ministry. It may also help to obtain licenses for performing weddings, funeral services or operating ministries, such as in prison or hospitals. Clergy are asked to reference their respective local and State laws for detailed information on how to set up a religious non-profit organization. Please consult with the bishop for resources and assistance.
(12) Our jurisdiction has taken the following steps to reduce the chances of abuse and to lessen its impact on survivors.
(a) We insist that all our clergy and monastics receive proper education. In our mobile society this is an important opportunity to vet candidates for ordination.
(b) We support the implementation of programs in our educational venues that are designed to teach candidates how to maintain appropriate boundaries and how to minister effectively to community members who have been abused.
(c) We ensure that complete background checks be conducted, before candidates are ordained or before clergy from other jurisdictions are received.
(d) We support educational programs that address abuse for clergy, who are already serving.
(e) We educate Parishioners and their children about the importance of appropriate boundaries, as well as how to maintain them. This is particularly important for those who have already been abused, wherever the harm may have occurred.
(f) We encourage discernment: Listen to your inner voice. If something makes you uncomfortable or seems odd, pay attention to your feeling. Ask questions, and if you are not satisfied with the answers, bring it to the attention of a superior.
(g) We ensure that children in a community are adequately supervised at all times when they are on the premises.
(h) We require mandatory background checks for those, who will be working with children, including volunteers.
(i) We remove or put under disciplinary action anyone, who is found engaging in physical, verbal or psychological abuse.
(j) Clergy have no choice but to report sexual abuse cases to the authorities.
(13) All clergy are expected to conduct themselves in a manner conducive to their office keeping in mind that their ministerial duties and availability can be beyond regular working hours. This includes proper attire when in public and professional clergy attire in carrying out pastoral functions. While there is no particular day-to-day “dress code”, priests are expected to wear more formal clothing, preferably of darker hue while in public. However, when in their pastoral capacity, all clergy are held to wear appropriate clericals.