Healthy Boundaries


The church should be a safe place where people can worship, learn, work, love, and receive care. For the sake of God’s mission and ministry in and through the North Carolina Synod, we are committed to the formation of whole and healthy leaders and to the nurturing of vital congregations. This commitment includes the expectation that all active rostered ministers regularly receive Boundary Training. Of particular importance are boundaries related to professional ethics, finances, use of social media, the prevention of sexual misconduct, boundaries concerning gender and harassment, and boundaries concerning racial justice.

NC Synod Boundaries Education

In July of 2019, in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the ordination of women, the bishops of Region 9 developed the “Region 9 Bishops’ Relational Agreement for boundaries, candidacy and call process.” The introductory paragraph of that document states:

Committed to always reforming for the health of leaders, vitality of congregations, and the flourishing of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we agree to work together as a region to address systemic issues facing rostered ministers who are women.

Every active rostered minister, candidate for rostered ministry, synodically authorized minister or lay preacher is required to be current on their annual boundaries education in order to activate an RMP, transfer into another synod of Region 9, be available for any call or appointment, including interim work, or serve as a synod-recommended supply preacher.

Regional Boundaries Education 2024

The Region 9 Agreement states that together the region will: " to create a culture change in our region through deepening trust and relationship—creating authentic avenues for reporting, responding, education, advocacy, and care.”

All active rostered ministers are required to attend one of these education opportunities.

Dates are noted below; times and Zoom links are forthcoming.

  • October 15
  • October 24
  • November 9
  • November 14

NC Synod Basic Boundaries Education: 2024

Basic Boundary Training is a comprehensive, initial session designed for Advanced Lay Ministers, Lay Preachers, candidates, and rostered ministers in their first call or who have newly transferred to the NC Synod.

  • Basic Boundary Training will be offered immediately following NC Synod Fall Convocation (Oct 14-16, 2024) at Lutheridge in Arden.
  • Safe Gatherings: Clergy Ethics and Congregational BoundariesOnline, On Demand; $29. A self-paced, two-hour course. Purchase here. This is the option for a Basic Boundary training that can be completed on your own time.





NC Synod Staff Contacts for Boundaries Training

Pastor Cassie Overcash

Assistant to the Bishop; contact for sexual misconduct and professional ethics

Michael DeNise

Director of Finance and Administration; contact for financial issues

Sarah Greene Burleson

Assistant for Boundaries; contact with questions about registering for boundary training

Boundary Violations

Boundary violations are considered misconduct. Misconduct occurs in a variety of categories. Three with which the church regularly deals are: Financial Misconduct, Sexual Misconduct, and Social Misconduct.

Explore each of these areas more in the following tabs.

Financial misconduct involves embezzlement, fraud, misuse of funds, lack of internal controls, and conflicts of interest.

All forms of sexual misbehavior (Affairs, harassment, solicitation, sexual abuse) by clergy and lay leaders with church members are unacceptable within the life of the church. The church should be a safe place where people can worship, learn, work, love and receive care in a manner that is free from sexual misconduct.

Because the church is called to be a safe place, this synod intends to take whatever measures it can to help prevent sexual abuse and misconduct within the synod.

Click to review the synod's sexual misconduct policy.

Harassment & Social Misconduct includes things such as racism, gender-based discrimination, physical and/or verbal abuse, derogatory language, macro- and micro-aggressions. The NC Synod takes this misconduct seriously and requires that all rostered ministers of this synod participate regularly in training which addresses not only sexual and financial misconduct, but also Racial Sensitivity and Gender-Based Sensitivity.

Healthy Boundaries Policies & Resources

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  • Healthy Boundaries
  • Policies
  • Reporting Misconduct

Healing in Congregations After Clergy Sexual Abuse

A resource to assist synodical leaders and local congregations. This resource is offered to synodical bishops and their staffs, to other clergy and lay leaders, interims and “after pastors,” including those who will provide on-site leadership for a period of time in congregations after the incidence of clergy sexual abuse.

Visit Link

ELCA Report Misconduct

Visit the ELCA website for additional reporting resources including a drop down menu on who to contact in synods and congregations to report a misconduct.

Visit Link

Safe Sanctuaries

Safe Sanctuaries: Reducing the Risk of Child Abuse in the Church by Joy Thornburg Melton.
This 80-page book provides guidance to help develop policies and procedures for reducing the risk of child abuse in the church. The book defines the scope of child abuse, outlines the different types of abuse, notes the indicators of abuse, discusses the legal requirements for reporting abuse, and provides guidelines for screening and hiring workers and volunteers. The book also outlines basic procedures of safe ministry with children and youth and outlines a congregational plan for responding to allegations of abuse. Sample forms included for screening workers, requiring background checks, doing reference checks and reporting suspected abuse. A suggested training session plan for people who work with children and youth is outlined, and a bibliography of suggested resources is included.

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Cherish All Children

An ELCA ministry that equips congregations to prevent child sexual exploitation. The heart of this ministry lies in congregations, where staff, leaders, and members pray, educate, connect with others, and act on behalf of children within and outside their congregations.  The website has tips, practical examples and a suggested structure for developing a Cherish All Children team. It also has resources for safe church policies, prayer booklets, books, and Internet resources.

Visit Link

NC Synod Staff Contacts for Reporting Misconduct

The following synod staff are available to receive reports.

Main Telephone

Dial for extensions

Bishop Tim Smith

Extension 9555

The Rev. Cassie Overcash

Extension 9556

The Rev. CeCee Mills

Extension 9563

The Rev. Alfredo Oviedo

Extension 9553

The Rev. Phil Tonnesen

Extension 9558

Michael DeNise

Extension 9562 — For financial misconduct

Healthy Boundaries for Congregations


Wholeness Wheel

Living well is a personal journey that presents each of us with unique opportunities to steward our gifts in all dimensions of our lives. It is up to us to tend these dimensions of our well-being so we may live as resilient people for the sake of the world.

The Wholeness Wheel is increasingly used by ELCA individuals and organizations as an important learning and discernment tool. It illustrates that wellness is multi-dimensional — made up of spiritual, vocational, intellectual, emotional, physical, social, and financial dimensions of well-being. Spiritual well-being is intertwined with and influences our well-being in all other dimensions.

Creating Resilient Leaders: From Portico Benefits

Because Resilient Leaders Shape Healthy Faith Communities

When our leaders are healthy, our churches are stronger. As congregations and as professionals in ministry, we work together to support well-being.

We Each Play a Role

Healthy, resilient leaders shape healthy, resilient faith communities. This ELCA core belief explains the enduring partnership between ELCA organizations, their leaders, and Portico Benefit Services. As one community, we're called to strengthen ministry. Guiding church documents point to the critical role we each play:

  • Congregation members and organizations are called upon to provide their leaders with sustainable livelihoods as well as time to tend their well-being.
  • Leaders are expected to tend their well-being in all dimensions of the Wholeness Wheel, the ELCA's wellness symbol and discernment tool.
  • Portico is responsible for providing cost-effective benefits, resources, and inspiration to help leaders strengthen their financial, emotional, and physical well-being.

Signs of a Healthy Leader

Our churches are stronger when God's people are good stewards of the lives God has given them. When our leaders tend their well-being, they model strength, courage, vulnerability, compassion, and grace.

  • A healthy leader is comfortable talking about money.
  • A healthy leader cares for themselves emotionally and physically.
  • A healthy leader knows there is strength in vulnerability.
  • A healthy leader speaks openly about their life.

Do Some Personal Reflection

Abundant life means striving for health of body, mind, money, and spirit. Can you name something you're doing to show up as an example of wellness for your congregation?

Take a look at the Signs of A Healthy Leader PDF. Review the concrete ways leaders who tend their physical, emotional, and financial well-being might find strength for ministry. Then spend a few minutes reflection on the questions found on the second page.

Best Practices for Congregation Councils and Officers

Visit the synod page for resources and events here.