Course Type:

Synthesizing Courses (Level 3)  - MP30606 - 1.5 Credits

Ethics are a set of principles for appropriate conduct.  While often based on morals, which is the understanding of what it right and wrong, ethics differs from morality.  Some things that moral behavior generally considers “right” may not be appropriate conduct in terms of professional ethics. For example, it is morally good to foster friendships with others.  However, the ethics of most professions discourage friendships with those to whom a professional provides a service.  That’s not because friendship is wrong.  Instead, it’s because that boundaries of the professional relationship need to be maintained so that a person receives a quality service from the professional that isn’t influenced by a friendship.

In this course, we will explore ethics and their application for professional pastoral ministers.  We will consider the boundaries that define the relationships between professional pastoral ministers and congregants.  We will also consider how the professional minister’s right to privacy helps to maintain appropriate boundaries and serves as an essential aspect for self-care.

Learning Objectives

 In addition to the objectives the learners identify for themselves, participants who successfully completes this course will be able to:

To synthesize an understanding of one’s own spirituality and theological foundations for pastoral ministry.

To assess personal character and values with an ethical paradigm for professional ministry.

To integrate values related to competence within one’s identity as a pastoral minister.

To recognize the relationship between the power differential between pastoral minister and congregant as a context for spiritual and sexual abuse.

To appraise the role of confidentiality in pastoral ministry, including maintaining confidential information from congregants as well as protecting the pastoral minister’s privacy.

To formulate an applied approach to ethics for a specific context of pastoral ministry.

Required Texts

  • Lebacqz, Karen, and Drickill, Joseph. (2000). Ethics and Spiritual Care: A Guide for Pastors, Chaplains, and Spiritual Directors. Abingdon Press.  ISBN: 978-0-678-07156-2
  • Gula, Richard M. (2010). Just Ministry: Professional Ethics for Pastoral Ministers. Paulist Press. ISBN:  978-0-80910463104






PATHWAYS believes that quality theological education should be available to any who want it. That’s why we provide a cost-effective online theological program accessible to all. 4-week Explorer courses are only $124, 6-week courses just $350, 9-week courses Supervised Ministry courses are $470, and our 12-week UCC History and Polity course is only $625.


Because classes are not bound by geography and have a flexible weekly schedule, PATHWAYS courses are able to fit into the rest of your busy life. Courses typically involve weekly readings and discussion in a facilitated online forum, offering practical, open-minded education and a learner-centered environment where participants can bring their own questions and insights.


Our courses have between 4 and 15 participants. This allows for deep and productive discussions in the online forum. We know that a small class size allows the participants to develop learning relationships with each other and for facilitators to push participants to a more indepth learning experience.


PATHWAYS Theological Education, Inc.,
P.O. Box 897
Tucker, GA 30085

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PATHWAYS Theological Education, Inc. is a nonprofit provider of theological education that is academically rigorous and affordable.   A PATHWAYS education in Ministry Preparation can be completed on-line in three years at a fraction of the price of a seminary education.   Our program is aligned with the requirements for ordination of most mainline Protestant denominations and seeks to work with ordaining bodies to make sure that participants are meeting their goals.   Now is the time to make an inquiry for the future of theological education.  Reach out today to Partner with PATHWAYS Theological Education, Inc.

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