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Lay Chaplain

In Canada, it became apparent as early as 1970 that the desire for Unitarian rites of passage far surpassed the availability of Unitarian ministers.  The Lay Chaplaincy program was developed to meet this need. Lay Chaplains are chosen by their congregations and sanctioned by the Canadian Unitarian Council. Lay Chaplains are officially licensed by provincial government to perform legally-binding marriage ceremonies.

Today Unitarian Lay Chaplains across Canada conduct some 1,000 rites of passage each year for members of the community at large. There are more than 70 Unitarian Universalist Lay Chaplains in Canada.

For additional information about Lay Chaplains please see

Code of Ethics for Lay Chaplains

Statement of Purpose

We, Lay Chaplains appointed by our congregations under the guidelines of the Canadian Unitarian Council, give full assent to this code of behavior as a statement of our serious intent and as an expression of our common concerns and loyalties.


I commit myself, before all else, to honest and responsible performance of my duties as lay chaplain. Because the religious life is a growing life, I will strive to keep alive my own religious growth. I will try to be aware of my own weaknesses and strengths. Knowing my limitations, I will not hesitate to seek help in difficulty. I will sustain in my own mind respect for the lay chaplaincy. I will refrain from words and actions that degrade the lay chaplaincy or are destructive to congregational life.


I will do my best to support my colleagues and to keep, for them, an open mind and heart. I will respect confidences given to me by my colleagues. I will not speak scornfully or in derogation of any colleague. When critical of a colleague, I will speak responsibly, temperately, and constructively. I will try to inform my colleague, in advance, of any request for my services within her/his church or purview. I will consider with respect her/his objection, if any, to such engagement. When sharing lay chaplaincy with others, I will work in cooperation and in consultation in accordance to clearly defined responsibilities.


I will hold to a single standard of respect and help for all members of the church and larger community. I will respect the confidentiality of private communications. I will not invade the private and intimate bonds of others' lives, nor will I trespass on those bonds for my own advantage. I will not exploit the needs of another person for my own purposes. I will treat with respect and sensitivity the religious beliefs and traditions of others. I will strive to live and to speak in a way that exemplifies the best of Unitarian values and traditions.