Accountability and Ethics

"Ethics is nothing else than reverence for life.” Albert Schweitzer

Unity Worldwide Ministries (UWM) holds its members–both ministers and ministries–to high ethical standards which are outlined in our Codes of Ethics. When an ethical concern arises, it is addressed through our Ethics Review System (ERS) which is committed to a compassionate peer review process that explores what occurred, if there was a breach of ethics, and the path forward to address ethical breaches when they occur.


Ethics Review System (ERS)

What is the Ethics Review System?

  • The Ethics Review System is a compassionate and supportive peer review process that explores allegations of ethical violations, including sexual misconduct. 
  • It is comprised of a team of highly skilled and trained Credentialed Leaders.  Because it is a peer review process, Ministers review other Ministers. Licensed Unity Teachers (LUTs) review other Licensed Teachers.
  • Members of the UWM staff do not serve on review teams. The Director of Member Services is the staff representative to this team, and serves in an advisory capacity.
  • Ministers, Ministerial Candidates, LUTs and Ministries can be reviewed.
  • This system only addresses ethical concerns. Concerns about competency are directed to the Director of Member Services.


ERS Roles

  • Council of Chairs: The Council of Chairs is made up of 3 tenured ERS team members who train and mentor team members, ensure policy is followed, and provide oversight to the system. One member of the council serves as the Chair of Chairs.
  • Judicatory Representative (JR): The ERS team member who serves as case manager during a review, coordinating activities of team and ensuring process runs smoothly.
  • Advocate: The ERS team member who serves as the support person for the person/ministry in review.
  • Discernment Panel: A team of tenured ERS team members who are utilized when a resolution cannot be found by a review team.


What happens when a concern is received?

  • The JR Chair reviews the concern to determine if it is ethical in nature.
  • If it is an ethical issue, JR Chair obtains a signed release of information form from the individual expressing the concern.
  • When signed release is received, the JR Chair sends a letter of notification to the reviewee indicating:
    • Review has been initiated
    • The nature of the concern–including a copy of the statement of concern
    • The initiation of a review does not indicate determination has been made. ERS is simply exploring the allegation.
    • The name of the reviewee’s Advocate
  • Advocate calls reviewee within 48 hours after notification has been sent.
  • The situation is assessed by an ERS team consisting of the Advocate, Case Manager and additional team members as required.
  • Decisions of review can include:
    • Clearance
    • Ethics violation has occurred and a Mutually Agreed-Upon Plan of Action (MPoA) is created to address the situation.
    • Referral to Discernment Panel. The Discernment Panel may make the following decisions:
      • Clearance
      • Mutually Agreed-Upon Plan of Action
      • Required Plan of Action
      • Suspension

For more information or to find out about joining the ERS Team, please contact Rev Cynthia Vermillion-Foster, Director of Member Services:


Sexual Conduct Policy

This policy addresses the issue of sexual misconduct including, but not limited to, sexual molestation, sexual abuse/harassment, and sexual exploitation by Unity Credentialed Leadership. The policy also specifies procedures by which a Unity Credentialed Leader can ethically transition a pastoral relationship into a personal or romantic relationship.


Ethics Resources

Codes of Ethics Codes of Ethics for Ministers, Licensed Unity Teachers, Ministries and Certified Spiritual Educators

Ethics Review System overview brochure

Ethics Review System Policy & Procedures

List of suspended Unity ministers

Agreement between licensed Unity teachers and ministers Download an rtf document that you can customize.

Agreement between a presenter and a Unity ministry