Spiritual leaders in numerous faith bodies serve in the specialized ministries called chaplaincies: campus, community, corrections, health care, military and the workplace. Chaplaincies are open to Adventist clergy in many nations of the world.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church attempts to place only highly qualified ministers in the chaplaincy expressions of ministry. The General Conference establishes denominational standards for chaplaincy ministries, and the ACM Department provides guidance for applying those standards to the world field.
Adventist chaplains are ministers with current conference-issued credentials who are granted ecclesiastical endorsement to serve in one of the specialized ministries. The chaplaincy is an equally valid and viable expression of ministry on par with more traditional expressions of pastor and evangelist. They are an integral element of the Adventist ministry.
It has been estimated that 65-75 percent of Adventist youth attend secular colleges and universities. Many Adventist chaplains are ministering in those campus settings.
The work of community chaplains is another expression of chaplaincy ministry. Adventist community chaplains perform a vital ministry to the greater communities in which Adventists have presence. Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries believes this is a primary method that follows Christ’s way of reaching people.
“Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, “Follow Me.” “There is need of coming close to the people by personal effort. If less time were given to sermonizing, and more time were spent in personal ministry, greater results would be seen. The poor are to be relieved, the sick cared for, the sorrowing and the bereaved comforted, the ignorant instructed, the inexperienced counseled. We are to weep with those that weep, and rejoice with those that rejoice.”– Ministry of Healing, page 143.
In prisons and other correctional facilities, Adventist chaplains can be found living the words of Christ, “I was in prison, and you came unto me.” These men and women are key members of the correctional care team as they bring the grace of God to inmates who need Christ and rehabilitation so they can return to a productive role in society. Chaplains go where most others cannot, including death row, to do their tasks as ministers of the Gospel.
Health care chaplains comprise the largest group of professional chaplains. They visit patients in a variety of settings including hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, hospices, and private homes.
Health care chaplains work with patients, their families and staff in communities. Their challenge is to help people grow toward health and wholeness, seeking to be a continuation of the healing ministry of Christ. Chaplains also work with administrators and church leaders facilitating the mission of their institutions.
For centuries various nations have recognized the need for spiritual ministry for persons in uniform. Chaplains retain their identity as Seventh-day Adventist ministers and make significant contributions to the mission of the church. They care for Adventist and non-Adventist military personnel alike. Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries seeks to expand this aspect of chaplaincy into other countries as well.