Clergy Boundary Training Policy

This policy was updated by the Southwest Association Committee on Church and Ministry on December 5, 2019.

Healthy boundaries are a critical part of good ministry and comprehensive boundary training is an important way to periodically reflect on our own boundaries as authorized ministers.

To maintain their ministerial standing in the United Church of Christ, the Southwest Association (SWA) requires that all authorized ministers participate in an approved boundary training class every 5 years. This requirement also applies to retired clergy who often officiate for weddings and funerals, fill pulpits, perform baptisms and administer communion in their own and other churches. While these ministries may seem incidental, one cannot underestimate the power a clergy person has even in retirement. The Michigan Conference has in the past offered boundary training specifically oriented to retired clergy in recognition that the issues retired clergy face can be different from those of non-retired clergy.

Authorized boundary training classes include those offered and / or approved by the Michigan Conference. Other classes may be approved by the SWA Committee on Church and Ministry on a case by case basis. A record of training will be maintained by the Association Registrar as well as the Michigan Conference office. It is the responsibility of each minister to provide proof of attendance at an approved training class in a timely manner. If any clergy person is more than one year out of compliance with this requirement, their ministerial standing will be reviewed by the SWA Committee on Church and Ministry and subject to possible suspension.

Ministers who are not engaged in active ministry and do not intend to do so may request their Ministerial Standing be changed to “Exempt.” Exempt ministers are also exempt from boundary training requirements. Should an Exempt minister wish to engage in ministry again, they must request an end to their Exempt status and complete the necessary boundary training. To apply for Exempt Ministerial Standing, ministers should complete the “Application And Covenant For Exempt Ministerial Standing” found on the SWA web site. Exempt status is not granted until the Committee on Church and Ministry receives and approves the application.