Ethics Call: Conversations with Unity Leaders

Reported by your SW Region Communications Consultant, Malayna Dawn

The April 12, 2018 web conference call on the topic of Ethics was led by Cynthia Vermillion-Foster, UWM Member Services Director. About 20 people logged in via computer and phone to be part of the discussion.



Cynthia explained that a task team has been put together, following discussion at the last People’s Convention, to explore the concept of expanding the ministers’ code of ethics, with some adjustments, to apply to all leaders. The team was scheduled to meet just after the conference call to take what they heard into their next steps.



Rev. Denese Schellink, our Regi. Rep. confirmed that the most recent Code of Ethics is the one currently available online, which is dated 2012.

There are areas in which the wording in the Code of Ethics probably wouldn’t change, but opportunities to do work as a movement may be raised. In such cases, one can speak to Carrie Kenyon, Transitional, Employment & Evolving Ministries Coordinator.KenyonCarrie_0268web120


Members of the UWM Board of Trustees were on the call, and spoke about exploring whether or not the currently suggested bylaws could be mandated, and what might be the consequences for not adhering (or rather, as Cynthia put it, “supportive ways to call a person or group into greater accountability and integrity”). Another pointed out that while Unity as an organization has grown more skillful in communication, and the Ethics Review System is needed only for a few exceptions, the question remains, “where is the line and how do we draw it?”.

One contributor suggested there could be ways to approach it, not from consequence or something wrong, but as “wrestling with an angel,” and seeking the emergence of the next level of magnificence.

Another pointed out that the consequences are actually felt by the congregation, and at this level of leadership, our goal is to protect congregations from suffering the consequences of leadership issues. This person suggested a promotional effort to create excitement about standing together in loving support, celebrating a co-created covenant between the leaders and those agreeing to be led, not just the sense of consequences for doing something “wrong”.


In the area of support for retired or retiring ministers, Carrie Kenyon is working on a program called “Leaving Gracefully”. Someone on the call also mentioned the Colleague Connection listed on the Ministry Teams page. It was also suggested that retired ministers could share their knowledge and remain involved if they joined one or more of the UWM teams.


Check the UWM Conversations with Leaders page under “Archives of Conversations with Unity Leaders” for the recording of the conversation, when it becomes available.

Be sure to read Cultivating a Culture of Accountability in Unity Leaders Journal, written by Cynthia Vermillion-Foster.