Seventh-day Adventist Community Chaplains Association
All chaplains are pastors, though not all pastors are called to be chaplains. Just as medical doctors require graduate school and licensing before they can practice medicine, pastors require professional training and credentialing. To become a specialist in any medical field requires advanced professional training, residency and certification. To become a chaplain, pastors must have advanced training, pastoral experience verified by current credentials and ecclesiastical endorsement.
Ecclesiastical endorsement is the Church's affirmation that a person is seeking or serving in chaplaincy and has presented evidence of their calling and training for that ministry. It signifies the applicant (1) is an experienced minister in regular standing of the Seventh-day Adventist Church; (2) has completed appropriate training for the specialized ministry; (3) is placed or is seeking placement in an approved chaplaincy ministry setting; and (4) will maintain an accountable relationship with the Church.
Ecclesiastical endorsement is (1) required by most Seventh-day Adventist institutions that employ chaplains; (2) required by virtually all government or public agencies that hire chaplains; (3) required by most private organizations that hire chaplains; (4) often required by institutional accrediting bodies, and for membership or certification in most professional associations; (5) needed for ACM to effectively represent chaplains in dealing with placement, church policy issues and other matters; and (6) a demonstration of the chaplain's commitment to professional competence and accountability to the mission of the Church.
Each division establishes an application process for ecclesiastical endorsement and other professional certifications. Applicants must satisfactorily complete the application process. The application process usually consists of three steps:
1. Completion of Application Packet - Normally, the application packet will consist of the following documents: (a) official transcripts from educational institutions, (b) statement from the applicant about their calling to chaplaincy ministry, (c) an application form, (d) evaluations from references, (e) a report of an interview, (f) a copy of current ministerial credentials issued by a conference, and (g) recent photograph (head and shoulders).
2. ACM Committee Review - Submission of the application packet by the ACM Director to the ACM Committee for their consideration.
3. Notification - Notification by the ACM Director of the ACM Committee's decision to the appropriate parties.
Applicants must be members in regular standing of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. A graduate degree in theology, religion or pastoral care is the minimum level of professional training. If an applicant's undergraduate degree was not obtained at an accredited Seventh-day Adventist college or university, then the applicant will need to take additional prescribed undergraduate courses. Applicants must also have at least two years of pastoral experience (post graduation) or proven equivalency as determined by the ACM Committee. That experience implies that applicants will also possess current ministerial credentials (credentials for ordained ministers / commissioned credentials / ministerial license / commissioned minister license) issued by a conference. Ministerial credentials are the Church's way of recognizing and affirming the validity of one's calling to the ministry. See the link, "Chaplaincies," for specific requirements for each of the various chaplaincy ministries. Exceptions for individuals are determined on a case-by-case basis by the ACM Committee, whose decision is final.
Note: To qualify, all education must be obtained from colleges, universities and seminaries that are accredited to ACM standards.
Once an applicant has been granted ecclesiastical endorsement, they must comply with certain requirements annually in order to retain their ecclesiastical endorsement:
- Credentials - Maintain regular standing as a credentialed minister in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
- Conditions - Meet any conditions of provisional or time-limited ecclesiastical endorsement. Requests for extension of time due to extenuating circumstances must be made prior to the expiration date.
- Reports - Submission of satisfactory annual reports to the ACM office. Failure to submit the required annual reports and be accountable to the Church will be cause for suspension of the chaplain's ecclesiastical endorsement. If the chaplain fails to submit required annual reports for two years in a row, the ecclesiastical endorsement will be revoked.
- Continuing Education - In order to maintain professional proficiency chaplains are required to continue their professional education for a minimum of forty hours per calendar year (twenty hours per calendar year for part-time and / or volunteer chaplains). Various types of continuing education can meet the requirement: additional classes or courses at an accredited college or university, attendance at professionally related conferences or seminars, specialized training that enhances chaplain proficiencies, or professionally related reading, research or writing beyond the performance of routine duties. The chaplain must document completion by submitting written evidence such as certificates, diplomas, copies of papers written, or a log of articles and books read.