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Become a Chaplain or Spiritual Care Provider

Endorsement for Clergy Appointed by their Bishop

Many of those appointed as chaplains or spiritual care providers in institutions outside the United Methodist Church will require the Church’s endorsement prior to employment. Endorsement certifies that a person is credentialed as clergy by The United Methodist Church and is authorized to perform the ministries of the Church in a pluralistic setting. Endorsement recognizes the presence of the gifts of character and ability required in the specialized ministry.

In providing endorsement on behalf of the Church, UMEA serves as a bridge between annual conferences (which license, ordain and appoint clergy) and outside institutions, which certify or employ chaplains.

Applicants for endorsement must belong to one of three clergy categories:

  • Elders ordained in full connection or provisional members on the elder track.
  • Deacons ordained in full connection or provisional members on the deacon track.
  • Associate clergy members of the annual conference or licensed local pastors.

Military chaplaincy is restricted to full or provisional elders.

Endorsed clergy commit themselves to acquire the professional training and certification necessary in the specialized ministry. See the kinds of ministries eligible for endorsement here. Apply for endorsement here. Learn more about the requirements and the endorsement process with the UMEA Endorsement Guide.

Training and Certification

Most civilian employers will require substantial training in Clinical Pastoral Education or other professional preparation beyond the Master of Divinity degree. Many employers will also require chaplains to achieve board certification within a certain period after employment. Those in therapeutic fields will need to be licensed in the state where they practice. Those considering ministry in an endorsed field should speak with UMEA early in their preparation to make sure they are on the right path.

Employment

Although United Methodist chaplains serve within the appointive system, chaplains are responsible for finding their own employment. The best way to learn what employers require is to read job descriptions and talk with clergy now serving in the specialized profession that interests you.

Ecclesiastical Approval for Volunteer Chaplains

United Methodist clergy serving as volunteer chaplains also commonly need evidence of ecclesiastical approval. UMEA provides ecclesiastical approval for clergy serving in settings that include:

  • Civil Air Patrol (CAP)
  • Coast Guard Auxiliary
  • Volunteer State Guard
  • State, local and federal law enforcement agencies
  • Fire and rescue
  • Disaster and Emergency Management Services (e.g. Red Cross Spiritual Care)
  • Other unpaid volunteer chaplain programs (Airports, hospitals, prisons, etc.)

Click here to apply for ecclesiastical approval to serve as a volunteer chaplain. Explore the Volunteer Chaplain Approval Guide to learn more about the requirements and the process of approval.

Military Chaplain Candidate Program

Seminary students enrolled as candidates for ordained ministry in The United Methodist Church are eligible to participate in chaplain candidate programs conducted by the military departments. Participants receive a military commission and regular officer’s pay for the days spent in training. The chaplain candidate provides students the opportunity to explore military chaplaincy and learn about ministry to the military community. Participation in the chaplain candidate program does not guarantee future employment in the military as a chaplain or future endorsement by the Church.

Click here to apply for ecclesiastical approval to participate in a military chaplain candidate program. See our Military Chaplain Candidate Program guide to learn more about the requirements and the approval process.

Scholarship Opportunities

Some funding support is available to prospective chaplains. Those seeking more information should explore the Ministry as a Career section of GBHEM’s Loans & Scholarships page. Scholarship funding is also available through the Chaplain Samuel Grover Powell Scholarship Fund administered by the United Methodist Higher Education Foundation.

Inquire about chaplain scholarship opportunities directly with your United Methodist seminary/school of theology financial aid office. Candler School of Theology, for example, offers the Kollarik Scholarship awarding up to 50 percent per year to those preparing to serve as Methodist military chaplains.

Contact UMEA at umea@gbhem.org or call 615-340-7411.

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