Seventh-day Adventist Community Chaplains Association
QUESTIONS and ANSWERS
Q: What is a chaplain and how does a chaplain differ from a pastor?
inside institutional settings that provides for the religious needs and cares for the spiritual well-being of people associated with that institution, whether denominational or public. A chaplain is a pastor with specialized preparation who is called to minister in specific organizational settings.
Q: In what areas do chaplains minister?
A: Chaplains serve on educational campuses, in community agencies such as law enforcement, legislatures, search and rescue, in correctional institutions, in various healthcare facilities, with military organizations and in the work places.
Q: How can I become a chaplain?
A: First and foremost, you must be a credentialed minister (pastor) in good standing of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. You must meet denominational and/or professional and public educational standards for clergy, and if you work in the public arena, you must also comply with public law and policies governing chaplaincies. You may be required to meet certain physical standards and be below a certain age (usually around 40 in order to work long enough to qualify for a public pension in retirement). Most chaplaincies require a minimum of two years of post-seminary experience as “pastor-in-charge-of-a-church.” Some countries also require ordination. And before you can be a chaplain, you must be granted ecclesiastical endorsement by the denomination’s ACM Department of your division.
Q: What is ecclesiastical endorsement and how to I get it?
A: Ecclesiastical endorsement is a faith’s way of recognizing who is a qualified spiritual leader and affirms that spiritual leader as an ambassadorial representative of the faith to members and the public. Many nations’ public law requires an applicant for chaplaincies to be endorsed by a faith group that they represent. Without endorsement, one cannot serve as a chaplain. Endorsement is solely for clergy; NOT lay persons. The endorsement process involves an application, evaluations from references, an interview and review by an ACM Committee of experienced church officials. You will be asked to provide proof of your educational achievements and ministerial experience and credentials issued by a conference.
Q: I am already an ordained minister and have many years experience as a pastor. Frankly, I am ready for a different expression of
A: Very few, if any. Chaplaincy is a calling and very hard work. Think of the chaplain being like the cardiologist compared to the pastor being like the
Q: Do I have to attend an Adventist seminary?
A: Yes. In some cases, individuals have had no opportunity to attend Adventist schools even thru their college years. Why should the Church of any faith grant endorsement to someone who has never been schooled in that faith? There is more to being an Adventist minister than knowing 28 doctrines. For those who may already have a seminary degree and even be ordained (usually clergy converts), then they are asked to take courses from the Loma Linda University chaplain certification program to learn about their new faith heritage and unique beliefs.
Q: How can I become a military chaplain candidate while in seminary?
A: If you are a full-time student, apply to the military service of your choice and to the ACM Department for ecclesiastical approval to enter the chaplain candidate program. If you have not taken federal funds, upon graduation, you will have three options: resign your Reserve commission; apply to become a Guard or Reserve chaplain, or request active duty (full-time).
Q: I graduated from seminary, but have not been employed by a conference as a pastor. How can I ever get the required pastoral experience?
A: Alternative methods for obtaining pastoral experience have been implemented, accepted and are working. Contact the ACM Directors to learn more.
Q: What is Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE)?
A: CPE is supervised peer group training that examines the motives, emotions and theological basis that underlies pastoral responses to any people a pastor serves. It is required for all healthcare chaplains and benefits all clergy.
Q: I am a chaplain in a division outside NAD, but want to move to the USA and become a chaplain here. Will my qualifications from my home division be accepted and meet all the requirements in NAD?
A: According to the General Conference Working Policy book, each division establishes ecclesiastical endorsement requirements and standards that meet the legal and professional standards for their region. An endorsement granted in one division is not transferable. Applicants must fully meet the requirements of the division in which they wish to work.
Q: I am a dedicated lay person who has won many souls to the Lord and His Church, so why can’t I be a chaplain?
A: Many lay persons are effective soul-winners, but they are not clergy and cannot be a chaplain until they qualify and meet the legal and professional requirements for the chaplaincy of their choice. There is more to being a chaplain than just witnessing or giving Bible studies. Lay members can assist a chaplain and work under a chaplain’s supervision as care-givers.