The original idea was that this was to be a “Teaching Piece” on the Code of Ethics. After working through this, I see that it is actually a “Learning Piece,” or a tool for learning about the Code of Ethics. The difference is that the word teaching sets up a hierarchical model, but the word learning is more democratic.
The structure of this Learning Piece is simple: A statement on each section of the Code of Ethics from one of the members of the Professional Effectiveness Committee is followed by questions to stimulate thinking together by colleagues. The statements are to give you some of the thinking of the people who have been deliberating about the Code of Ethics at the national Ministers Council Senate for several years. These writers are about as diverse as could be gathered in a committee of American Baptist pastors. Though they had disagreements, they were of the same mind in regard to the final revision of the Code of Ethics. You can see their differences in the statements. I have left each page unsigned, because I am hoping that each statement and each set of questions will be used without prejudice.
I have provided a simple set of “Guidelines for Thinking Together.” In a group study, it is wise to appoint one person to be a facilitator of the process. This person would remind the group of the guidelines, help keep the conversation on track, and keep the conversation within the time limits agreed upon. One of the leaders of the dialogue movement, Peter Senge says, “A good facilitator always walks a careful line between being knowledgeable and helpful in the process at hand, and yet not taking on the expert or doctor mantle that would shift attention away from members of the team, and their own ideas and responsibilities.” I have found it is best to keep the number in the groups between 8 and 12, so that everyone has an opportunity to contribute.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Dialogue is sacred conversation.” It was his understanding that each person knows some of the truth. He believed that by listening and speaking to one another we begin to understand the power of love about which Jesus spoke. When we think together about the Code of Ethics we are working on the power of love in our lives as Ministers of the Gospel of Jesus. It is not always said out loud, but the bottom line of “The Covenant and Code of Ethics for Ministerial Leaders of American Baptist Churches” is love.
Covenant Guidelines for Thinking Together
“Speaking the truth in love, we grow up in every way into Christ.” ---Ephesians 4:15
I ask for three gifts from God for this learning experience:
Some Possible Uses
Shelley Aakre - Vermillion, South Dakota
Charles Brown - Fairfield, California
David L. Chapman - Roanoke, Virginia
David Wood - Lincoln, Vermont
Debra Hickman - Baltimore, Maryland
Dee Dee Turlington - Westfield, New Jersey
Mark Jervis - Gillette, Wyoming
Michael Harvey - Worcester, Massachusetts
Michelle Holmes - Berkeley, California
Thomas Gilmore - Cleveland, Ohio
Thank you to the former members of the Professional Effectiveness Committee who have worked hard over the years in thinking together about the Covenant and Code of Ethics.
Dee Dee Turlington and Michael Harvey, Co-editors