Keeping Our Sacred Trust: Understanding Clergy Sexual Ethics

Protect your congregation and your ministry with online sexual ethics training for pastors.

The issue of clergy sexual misconduct is on the mind of nearly every church leader today. Understanding Clergy Sexual Ethics, an online course from the Keeping Our Sacred Trust ethics training series, creates awareness of what constitutes misconduct, factors that can lead to misconduct, and positive steps that can prevent even the appearance of misconduct.

Understanding Clergy Sexual Ethics fosters healthy emotional responses that can counter tendencies toward misconduct, and helps clergy develop the instincts, habits, and support systems to sustain healthy and positive relationships.

Respond to these challenges and protect your congregation with Keeping Our Sacred Trust: Understanding Clergy Sexual Ethics. Enroll now.

Understanding Clergy Sexual Ethics addresses real concerns and questions from the perspective of those in pastoral ministry.

  • Why is maintaining boundaries essential to my pastoral effectiveness?
  • What behaviors violate sacred trust?
  • How do I maintain appropriate boundaries?
  • Why is it important to avoid the appearance of misconduct?
  • What factors and feelings can make me vulnerable to misconduct?


Course structure

Keeping Our Sacred Trust: Understanding Clergy Sexual Ethics is organized into two main parts. Part 1 addresses the question “What is keeping sacred trust and why is it important?” Part 2 addresses “How do you keep a sacred trust and prevent misconduct?” Each part includes a number of subsections designed to address real concerns and questions from the perspective of those in the practice of ministry.

Ensures thorough engagement

To ensure that clergy have thoroughly learned the materials, Understanding Clergy Sexual Ethics is capped with a 20-question test. Clergy must correctly answer at least 18 of the 20 questions to prove that they have a thorough command of the materials. Pastors who do not pass the test are required to retake it until they have exhibited the appropriate knowledge of the materials. Additionally, several short-answer questions are included throughout the course.

Convenient online format

  • Learn via written instruction, video presentations, and personal reflection exercises.
  • Work at your own pace, taking the time necessary to process information and reflect.
  • Engage in honest self-reflection with an online system that is completely confidential.
  • Study when and where it fits your schedule.
  • Avoid the time and expense of travel to workshops or seminars.

Key features of Understanding Clergy Sexual Ethics and other courses in the Keeping Our Sacred Trust ethics training series

  • $49 to enroll
  • .5 CEU issued within minutes by the Lewis Center upon completion
  • Certificate of successful completion issued
  • Individual and group registration available
  • Open to clergy and church leaders of any denomination and nondenominational pastors
  • Online format ensures full engagement of the study materials through built-in accountability mechanisms and allows you to study at your own pace, when and where you choose

A proven and time-tested resource

Understanding Clergy Sexual Ethics grew out of an earlier online training curriculum developed by the late Richard A. Hunt, Ph.D. for United Methodist clergy in Texas. In 2010, the Lewis Center for Church Leadership entered into a partnership with Dr. Hunt to make the course more widely available. Working with Dr. Hunt and other consultants in the field of clergy ethics, the Lewis Center edited, reorganized, and supplemented the original course and created a new online delivery system. Nearly 10,000 clergy in a wide variety of denominations have used the course since the Lewis Center relaunched it in 2011.

What recent course users have said

  • “The easiest online course to navigate I have taken. It is very user friendly.”
  • “Very thorough and thought provoking.”
  • “The best course I have taken on sexual misconduct.”
  • “A good balance of theological and practical. Very helpful and well worth the time.”

For more information, or to learn how denominations or judicatories can set up enrollment for groups, please contact the Lewis Center at (202) 664-5700 or

Other courses in the Keeping Our Trust ethics training series:

Maintaining Boundaries in a Digital Age
This course explores clergy ethics in an era of instantaneous, electronic communication. It helps spiritual leaders stay healthy and attentive to appropriate boundaries, dealing with issues such as social media, online behavior, and pornography. Learn more now.
Assuring Financial Integrity
This course explores issues of maintaining financial integrity and preventing fraud in congregational settings. It is designed for pastors, church staff, finance committee members, and all others with responsibility for handling church funds. Learn more now.