Chaplains and Pastoral Counselors

A United Methodist chaplain is a clergyperson called by God and ordained by a bishop to minister outside the walls of the church, caring for those with deep needs. His or her ministry of witness and service extends God’s love and service in various settings and requires specialized training to qualify for endorsement by The United Methodist Church. See how chaplains serve and lead.

All pastors counsel persons, but pastoral counselors endorsed by the United Methodist Endorsing Agency have undergone additional specialized training so they can bring together resources of scripture and faith and the insights of the behavioral sciences. Pastoral counselors serve on the staff of a local church, in a pastoral counseling center, or in a health-care institution. They work with individuals, families, and groups where their counseling is carried out within the tradition, beliefs, and resources of the faith community.

Exploring Endorsement and Ecclesiastical Approval

Endorsement is the process established by the church to ensure clergy possess the skills, capabilities, and are appropriate representatives of the denomination to serve in specialized ministries. Both employers and professional certifying bodies look to religious organizations for this endorsement because:

  • It attests to one’s suitability for ministry in a particular setting,
  • It gains the denomination’s support for one’s ministry beyond church walls,
  • It provides an assurance the clergyperson has no present or past legal or moral barrier to congregational ministry, and
  • It renders an affirmation the clergyperson will accommodate the religious rights of all persons within the institution’s scope of care.

Ecclesiastical approval is provided for certain civilian/volunteer settings, certification of organizations and for seminary students who are seeking enrollment in the military chaplain candidate program. An ecclesiastical approval is not an endorsement according to the 2008 Book of Discipline (¶1421.5)


Scholarships for chaplains (Chaplain Samuel Grover Powell Scholarship Fund, Coleman, Tyson & Siekman (CTS) Correctional Ministry Scholarship Endowment, and the Fred Heather Fund) are available through GBHEM and through the United Methodist Higher Education Foundation.

Heirs of Wesley

The United Methodist Endorsing Agency is proud to release “Heirs of Wesley,” a video highlighting the ministries of our endorsed clergy serving in diverse settings around the world. UMEA was honored to work with award winning Journey Films (producer of the Chaplains movie now showing on Public Television) to produce our product. The video was shown at General Conference 2016 in the Higher Education and Ministry booth and portions were shown as a part the agency’s report to the General Conference. Please share this video and our work with your friends to help us recruit the next generation of chaplains and pastoral counselors. Thank you for your continued support.

UMEA Continuing Education Opportunities:

Ethical Leadership: Living Out our Call in a Faithful Witness

Story Telling as Spiritual Exploration: with Rev. Dr. Michael Williams


Need More Information?

Connect with us via email or phone for any questions or concerns you might have. A full listing of staff is also available.

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