Unity’s Ethics Review System

Published on: June 1, 2014

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Refined for Support and Healing

During the Spring of 2009, I was asked to serve on a newly created team called the CLMRS Review Task Team.  CLMRS was the acronym for Credentialed Leaders Ministry Review System. This team reviewed cases involving credentialed Unity leaders and Unity ministries in which there were allegations of the leader/ministry violating our code of ethics. The CLMRS Review Task Team was asked to review the current process and make recommendations regarding whether procedures were adequate or expansive enough.

This team spent the good part of two years reviewing, discussing and documenting data that was received.  As a result of this endeavor, several ministers and ministries were removed from suspension and were eligible to seek active employment.  The team also revised the system, which is now called the Ethics Review System (ERS).

The new system added an important component which serves to support the person or ministry being reviewed.  This component is an Advocate who connects with, assures, supports, and responds to the needs of the Reviewee [credentialed leader or ministry] while supporting the highest healing/resolution of the situation.

Along with Advocates, the ERS is composed of Judicatory Representatives, Fact Finders, an Editorial Team and a Discernment Panel.  Once an alleged ethical violation is reported, it is sent to the Chair of the Judicatory Representatives and then on to the Judicatory Representative in the Region where the Reviewee is employed or the ministry is located.

There are three levels of review.  Level One involves the Reviewee, Judicatory Rep and Advocate.  At this level all parties work together to find a mutually agreed upon resolution.  A case moves to Level Two when a resolution cannot be accomplished at Level One.  At Level Two the Judicatory Rep is no longer involved. However, two Fact Finders are assigned to the case.  They work with the Advocate to review the facts, and find a mutually agreed upon plan of action.  If a plan of action cannot be agreed upon, the case goes to Level Three, at which time the Fact Finders turn over all the findings for the case to the Discernment Panel, which ultimately makes a final ruling.  The Advocate stays with the Reviewee through the entire process.

A Reviewee can receive the following outcome:

  • Cleared
  • Mutually Agreed Plan of Action
  • Required Plan of Action
  • Suspension

Having been involved with this system for many years, and having once been a minister who had been suspended, I can attest to the growth that has occurred in this process and the compassion and commitment of the folks who serve on this team. The intent of this team is to provide a compassionate and fair peer review and to, where appropriate and possible, establish a cooperative plan of action that will support a return to ethical standards.

The Ethics Review Policy is on UWM’s website for anyone wanting to learn more.


Pat Bessey

Rev. Pat, a life coach, now serves at Unity of Greater Portland in Windham, Maine. She is active as the Eastern Region church consultant and serves UWM as chair of the Standards Team, and as member on the Peace and Credentialing Teams.

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