Faithfulness in service

When Jesus spoke to his disciples he said they were not to be like the rulers of the day who exercised authority over others.  They were to be servants of others, even as Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve.

When Peter wrote to the Christians scattered throughout Asia Minor, he reminded them of their identity in Christ as God’s chosen people, sanctified by the Spirit for obedience to Jesus Christ.  The call to be holy is reflected in both the Old and New Testaments as the appropriate response to God’s grace.  Christians live according to the knowledge that they have been created by God and redeemed by Christ.

When Paul wrote to the Philippian Christians he rejoiced in their fellowship and prayed that their love might grow in knowledge and discernment so that they might see what was significant for their Christian vocation and be enabled to live pure and blameless lives for the day of Jesus Christ.  In the light of that growing knowledge of God’s love they are to live in humility and faithfulness in the power of the Holy Spirit.  They live out that love in their contact with others, especially those to whom they minister in Christ’s name.

The Church is the fellowship that nurtures and sustains Christians as they seek to follow Christ faithfully and participate in God’s mission.  Its leaders especially are to be examples of Christian faith and obedience as they exercise their vocation, in dependence on the Holy Spirit.

The personal behaviour and practices of pastoral ministry required of clergy (bishops, priests and deacons) of the Anglican Church of Australia are specified in the Holy Scriptures as well as in its Constitution, canons, ordinances, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal.  Although not bound by the promises made by clergy, church workers (lay persons who are employed or hold a position or perform a function within the Anglican Church of Australia) are expected to conform to the same behaviour and practices as clergy – except in areas that apply only to clergy.


This Code is intended to identify the personal behaviour and practices of pastoral ministry that will enable clergy and church workers to serve faithfully those among whom they minister.  If the behaviour and practices it outlines are followed, our communities will be safer places for everyone, where integrity is honoured, accountability is practised and forgiveness encourages healing and does not conceal misconduct.


This Code was adopted by the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia in 2004 as the national code for personal behaviour and the practice of pastoral ministry by clergy and church workers.

It is important that this Code be understood by clergy and church workers.  Each diocese will need to ensure that its clergy and church workers are trained in the Code and its application to personal behaviour and pastoral ministry.  Clergy and church workers undertaking pastoral ministry will need to apply the standards and guidelines of this Code in their specific circumstances.

Format and presentation

Each section of this Code consists of three parts:

  • a preamble which introduces the section;
  • standards which state the Church’s expectations for personal behaviour and the practice of pastoral ministry;
  • guidelines which explain and illustrate best practice and highlight practical ways to achieve it.

Throughout the Code, all key terms appear in bold text the first time they appear in a section and their definitions are contained in the section headed ‘Key Terms’.  Some additional educational material and advice is included in Section 5, Children.