Professional Ethics Program

GNJ’s Mission is to recruit and develop transformational leaders to make disciples of Jesus Christ and grow vital congregations for the transformation of the world.

Essential to that mission are leaders who have healthy boundaries and professional ethics.  Ethics is defined as the principles that govern a person’s behavior or the conduct of an activity.  Education in ethics is an ongoing process, one that GNJ is supporting through the Professional Ethics Program.  This program intends to aid GNJ’s appointed clergy and assigned laity in understanding ethics in an everchanging world to assist in making healthy and appropriate decisions.

Starting in 2023 we are offering basic level training in three areas of ethics: Safe Sanctuaries, Sexual Ethics, and Financial Ethics.

These trainings are designed for all clergy under appointment, including those in extension ministry, and all laity assigned to serve a church either as supply pastor or Certified Lay Minister.  Pending approval at the 2024 Annual Conference session, completion of all three trainings will be required each quadrennium.  Additional levels of training will be developed and continually updated so that the same trainings are not being repeated every four years; the idea is to keep content fresh and relevant so that learning and development continues over the years.

Financial Ethics – Launching Fall 2023

The Financial Ethics Course is an online, self-paced course that was created in partnership with Discipleship Ministries for appointed clergy and assigned laity (supply pastors and certified lay ministers).  This interactive course, which will be available on the Teachable online platform, covers the key areas:

  • Pastor’s Role & Responsibility for Finance & Administration
  • Safeguards, controls, and Boundaries
  • Access, Trust, Transparency, and Integrity
  • Documentation in a Digital Age
  • Connectional Accountability
  • If Misconduct Happens

This is a basic level course that provides important “need to know” areas found in The Book of Discipline. There are links to resource documents as the course design provides a foundation and basic insights and tools to help lead any size congregation in ordering their finances. A Leadership Academy course on ZOOM will be available periodically during the year for those interested in discussing course material and asking questions.

Safe Sanctuaries

Do No Harm, Do Good, Stay in Love With God- Wesley’s Three Rules


As people who are entrusted to safeguard the gifts of children, youth, and vulnerable adults in our congregations and communities, it is imperative that pastors and other ministry leaders understand the scope and potential for abuse within the church, and how to set up ministries, programming, and a community culture that prioritizes the safety of children, youth and vulnerable adults.

All clergy and assigned laity are required to take the Sexual Abuse Prevention Training through Ministry Safe.  This portion of the training is also recommended for any laity at the local church who are working with children, youth, and vulnerable adults.

Clergy and assigned laity are also required to have background checks, which are administered through Joanne Sullivan (

If a clergy person or lay person is appointed to a local church or ministry context, then they are also required to have a certified GNJ Safe Sanctuaries Policy and implement those policies and procedures in their local contexts.

For more information on how to create a policy, utilize Ministry Safe, and gain certification, please visit the Safe Sanctuaries webpage.

Sexual Ethics

“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can.” – John Wesley

As stated in the UMC Book of Resolutions, “Sexual Misconduct within ministerial relationships is a betrayal of sacred trust. It is a continuum of sexual or gender-directed behaviors by either a lay or clergy person within a ministerial relationship (paid or unpaid). It can include child abuse, adult sexual abuse, harassment, rape or sexual assault, sexualized verbal comments or visuals, unwelcome touching and advances, use of sexualized materials including pornography, stalking, sexual abuse of youth or those without capacity to consent, or misuse of the pastoral or ministerial position using sexualized conduct to take advantage of the vulnerability of another. It includes criminal behaviors in some nations, states, and communities and is a chargeable offense in The United Methodist Church.” (2016 Book of Resolutions, #2044)

GNJ is commited to prevent misconduct and address it when it occurs. We strive to educate so that we achieve a response that encourages and ensures accountability and healing to all parties. This includes education of clergy and assigned laity in areas such as understanding the sacred trust, maintaining appropriate boundaries, understanding misconduct, and factors and feelings that can make one vulnerable to misconduct.