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Chaplains & Pastoral FAQs

What does endorsement mean?

Endorsement certifies that a person is credentialed as clergy by The United Methodist Church and is authorized to perform the religious ministries required in the endorsed setting. Endorsement recognizes the presence of the gifts of character and ability required in the setting, including the ability to acquire the professional training and certification necessary in the endorsee’s field of expertise. Endorsement is the authority granted by the denomination to be appointed to and provide ministry in a specific setting.

How many clergy are endorsed and/or ecclesiastically approved to serve in ministries beyond the local church?

The United Methodist Endorsing Agency currently has over 1,700 clergy endorsed or approved to provide pastoral care in settings beyond the local church.

Who can be endorsed by The United Methodist Church?

Endorsement is for clergy (i.e., full or provisional deacons, full or provisional elders, associate members, local pastors) of the church appointed to extend the ministry of the church into specialized settings.

Can laity be endorsed?

Laity cannot be endorsed, as that word is used in The Book of Discipline. Laity can receive ecclesiastical support as deaconesses or home missioners. Like endorsement, ecclesiastical support is an affirmation provided to employers and professional certification organizations that a deaconess or home missioner is in good standing and has the appropriate professional training and equipping for ministry in specialized settings. Deaconesses and home missioners who are called to and professionally trained for chaplain or counseling ministry are eligible for ecclesiastical support for service in ministries not requiring them to administer the sacraments. The deaconess and home missioner programs are managed by the United Methodist Women. Click here for more information.

What are the types of specialized settings of ministry for which clergy are endorsed?

Ordinarily, endorsement is a requirement for employment and professional credentialing in ministerial settings outside the church walls.  Such settings include:

Campus ministry  
Children’s home
CPE educator
General hospital
Hospice and extended care
Life coach
Marriage and family therapy
Mental health
Military chaplaincy (active and reserve)
Police
Prison/corrections
Retirement community
Spiritual director
Substance abuse
Veterans Health Administration
Workplace
Other specialized ministries of pastoral care

Can full-time pastors also serve as chaplains in the Reserve or National Guard?

Yes. Pastors interested in serving in the military Reserve should discuss their interest with the Staff-Parish Relations Committee and District Superintendent before pursuing endorsement. Service in the Reserve imposes burdens on the congregation and wider church and requires that everyone be on board. See our guides for Reserve Component Chaplains and Church Leaders for more detailed information.

What is the relationship of an endorsed constituent to the annual conference?

An elder in full connection, serving in an endorsed setting of ministry, is accountable to the annual conference of which he or she is a member, and generally maintains a close working relationship with the work of the annual conference. An elder may be appointed to any setting worldwide where the ministry of word, sacrament, order and service is appropriate, while still maintaining membership in one’s home annual conference.

A deacon in full connection, serving in an endorsed setting of ministry, is accountable to the annual conference of which he or she is a member, and generally maintains a close working relationship with the work of the annual conference. Deacons have sacramental authority in their appointed setting only when granted by the bishop.

Licensed local pastors serving in an endorsed setting of ministry are amenable to the annual conference Fellowship of Local Pastors, and meet annually with the District Committee on Ordained Ministry to discuss their ministry and to request renewal of their licensure. The local pastor’s license must be renewed every year at annual conference. The local pastor’s sacramental authority is limited to the appointed setting.

Deacons, elders and licensed local pastors serving in endorsed settings of ministry also make annual reports on their activities, continuing education and personal evaluations to the annual conference.

See Relationships, Resources and Responsibilities for a more detailed discussion of conference relationships.

What happens to my endorsement when my appointment status changes?

Endorsement and appointment work in tandem.

If you are no longer appointed to the setting for which you have been endorsed, your endorsement becomes inactive. If, for example, you go on a leave of absence or receive an appointment only to a parish setting, your endorsed status ends. You must report these changes to UMEA. To return to an endorsed setting, speak to UMEA about reactivating your endorsement.

Retirees may retain their endorsement in a retired status if their bishop is willing to appoint them to the endorsed setting. For approval to perform irregular or contract work as an endorsed person in retirement, speak to UMEA.

If you voluntarily or involuntarily lose your clergy credentials in The United Methodist Church, your endorsement is terminated.

Can I change my approved setting for endorsement?

Changing your endorsed setting requires UMEA approval. Each situation is unique. Should you wish to change settings, we will review your request. Approval is not automatic and may be conditional. Speak to UMEA about what would be required to add an additional setting to your endorsement record.

Can my endorsement be withdrawn?

Endorsement may be withdrawn for cause in coordination with the endorsee’s bishop, in accordance with the policies and procedures established by the GBHEM Board of Directors.

UMEA does not withdraw military endorsements for the convenience of the endorsee to avoid deployments, reassignments or other lawful military orders. Endorsees wishing to leave military service should follow standard service procedures for release from active duty, unqualified resignation or retirement.

Can United Methodist clergy be endorsed by a different endorsing agency?

No. Clergy within the United Methodist connection may only be endorsed by UMEA. To accept endorsement from another endorsing agency may endanger your clergy standing in The United Methodist Church.

What if I want to change endorsers?

If you are endorsed by another endorsing agency and want to be endorsed by The United Methodist Church, the first step is to achieve clergy status within the UMC. Speak to the local United Methodist district superintendent to discuss the possibility of receiving you into the annual conference as a member of the clergy. Each situation is unique, and the path will vary from person to person. Additional classes in United Methodist studies are almost always required, along with other administrative requirements outlined in The Book of Discipline. Clergy transferring into the United Methodist connection and currently endorsed in good standing with another endorsing agency may be received into UMEA’s endorsement when the transfer is complete.

If you are endorsed by UMEA and wish to transfer your endorsement to another endorsing agency, understand that you will be severing your clergy relationship with The United Methodist Church. For those transferring out, UMEA will coordinate with the gaining endorser to provide, whenever possible, a seamless transition to the new endorsement.

Does the United Methodist Endorsing Agency (UMEA) provide continuing education opportunities for its constituency?

Yes. UMEA provides annual continuing education opportunities for its endorsed constituency. Continuing education credits are typically granted for these events.

What is the Chaplains’ Supplemental Pension Grant Fund?

The Chaplains Supplemental Pension Grant Fund was established by the General Conference of The United Methodist Church to provide retirement benefits for clergy who served as chaplains, pastoral counselors or in specialized ministries in which they do not qualify for pensions or other denominational benefits.

Qualifying clergy must have been granted ecclesiastical endorsement by the United Methodist Endorsing Agency of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry and have been appointed by their bishops to the endorsed setting. The fund is administered by both the United Methodist Endorsing Agency and the Wespath. The application is available here.

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