This unit explores a comprehensive range of personal, professional, and ethical issues common to pastoral ministry, providing students with opportunities to engage in a reflexive process for reviewing their pastoral practice. The unit emphasises evidence-based practice in ministry, and the intersection of personal and professional outlooks in forming ministry practice. It focusses on: personal calling and discernment; personal virtues, strengths and professional skills as key foundations for ethical practice; professional ethics and ethical decision making; confidentiality and keeping professional boundaries; power and trust issues; and potential areas of professional misconduct. The unit also explores the significance of reflexive practice, professional consultation and supervision in maintaining a compassionate and just ministry; and the benefits of spiritual health and wellbeing for ministry practice.

Unit code: DP9006Y

Unit status: Approved (Major revision)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Elective

Unit discipline: Pastoral Theology and Ministry Studies

Delivery Mode: Blended

Proposing College: Yarra Theological Union

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Learning outcomes


compare, contrast and evaluate some key ethical approaches used within various “helping professions”


analyse, articulate and review theologically for professional ethical practice in a pastoral and spiritual settings


demonstrate and illustrate a clear understanding of ethical standards in pastoral and spiritual care contexts


critically analyse complex ethical dilemmas in pastoral and spiritual settings, by applying theory, ethical decision-making and ethical resolutions


demonstrate an integrated understanding of the personal, professional and ethical complexities occurring in pastoral and spiritual settings


demonstrate a critical understanding of current research on healthy, ethical formation and practice, and apply this understanding to personal pastoral and spiritual practice

Unit sequence

DP8001Y Foundations of Pastoral Practice


Lecture, seminars, and group work with audiovisual resources, case studies and guided reading

Indicative Bibliography

  • Carroll, Michael and Elisabeth Shaw. Ethical Maturity in the Helping Professions: Making Difficult Life and Work Decisions. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2013.
  • Corey, Gerald, M. S. Corey and Patrick Callanan. Issues and Ethics in the Helping Professions. 10th ed. Sydney: Cengage Learning, 2017.
  • Davys, Allyson and Liz Beddoe. Best Practice in Professional Supervision: A Guide for the Helping Professions. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2010.
  • Gardner, Fiona. Being Critically Reflective: Engaging in Holistic Practice (Practice Theory in Context). London: Red Globe Press, 2014.
  • Gula, Richard M. Just Ministry: Professional Ethics for Pastoral Ministers. New York: Paulist Press, 2010.
  • Hawkins, Peter and Robin Shohet. Supervision in the Helping Professions. 4th ed. Maidenhead: Open University Press, 2012)
  • Kocher, Craig T., Jason Byassee, and James C. Howell (Eds). Mentoring for Ministry: The Grace of Growing Pastors. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2017.
  • Ledbetter, Bernice M., Robert J. Banks, and David C. Greenhaigh. Reviewing Leadership. A Christian Evaluation of Current Approaches. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2016.
  • Thompson, Dean K., and D. Cameron Murchison. Mentoring: Biblical, Theological, and Practical Perspectives. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2018.
  • Trull, Joe E. & Robert Creech. Ethics for Christian Ministry: Moral Formation for Twenty-First-Century Leaders. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic Press, 2017. Welfel, Elizabeth Reynolds. Ethics in Counseling & Psychotherapy: Standards, Research, and Emerging Issues. 6th ed. Sydney: Cengage Learning, 2015.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

Variant 1


Compare, contrast and evaluate two different ethical codes.

1500 20.0

A critical review of assigned reading on ethical issues in ministry - 200 words per week over ten weeks

2000 30.0

An essay reviewing and critiquing a specific ethical issue within the context of pastoral practice. It should demonstrate an advanced understanding of ministry theory and the significance of engaging in regular reflexive practice during ministry

3500 50.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by Maggie Kappelhoff on 31 Aug, 2021

Unit record last updated: 2021-08-31 16:36:58 +1000