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.
Working Beyond the Church Walls
Heidi Kugler is a prison chaplain serving in Honolulu, Hawaii. She describes ministry in a very difficult setting, but emphasizes the importance of God's love that knows no bounds and a hope that doesn't end.