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Process for Handling Complaints of Misconduct in your Congregation

Welcome to the UUA

The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) recognizes the courage it takes to consider filing a complaint of misconduct against a Unitarian Universalist (UU) religious professional.  You may be visiting this page for general information, or because you have experienced harm.  Please know that your inquiry will be treated with compassion, respect, and care.  

The process of making complaints can be complex.  Our intake person, Heather Bond, is at the UUA Monday-Friday during regular business hours, and is happy to speak with you in person: (617) 948-6462.  We do not currently offer a 24/7 “hotline” but your call will be answered within 48 hours.  Heather offers completely confidential listening, and can explain the process for filing a complaint. 

Response to Misconduct

The UUA Office of Ethics and Safety, in addition to broad support for safe congregations and right relations, provides a system for response to complaints of professional misconduct that is grounded in principles of restorative justice and reconciliation. These principles are expressed by:

  • pastoral concern and response to persons victimized
  • concern for the health and well being of congregations
  • concern for the integrity of the ministry and the UUA
  • congruency with UU principles
  • transparency

The process, managed by the Office for Ethics and Safety, will:

  • receive and investigate complaints
  • coordinate support services to affected individuals and congregations
  • present cases for adjudication by the Ministerial Fellowship Committee
  • involve investigators and advocates as needed, the latter providing both pastoral support and process information/advice to the complainant
  • involve, when needed, a crisis response team, to provide support to congregational staff and leaders
  • include an education and training component for congregational leaders

Unlike many other religious bodies, the UUA is an association of member individual and independent congregations. The role of the UUA is to provide support to its member congregations. It does not govern them. In our tradition of congregational polity, each member congregation has the power to ordain, call/hire, supervise and dismiss ministers and other staff; and to do so independently of the UUA. It is the congregation, not the Association, that takes responsibility for regulation of its own policies and staff. 

For more detailed information, please see the related content for Historical Context and detail processes.

For more information contact safecongregations @ uua.org.

Last updated on Thursday, November 6, 2014.

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