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Healthcare Chaplaincy Requirements

For Chaplaincy Applicants

Download application for ecclesiastical approval or endorsement in the following ministries:

Institutional/Occupational Chaplaincy Application

Counselor Chaplaincy Application

These forms (in PDF format) require the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view, fill-in, and print the forms. Please sign and return completed forms, discussion materials, $45 application fee and a current professional quality photo (4x6 or 5x7). Remember to have official transcripts from all colleges and seminaries sent to us as well.

Healthcare Chaplaincy Requirements

The role and functions of healthcare chaplains are diverse and include a variety of ministry settings. For example, chaplains may serve as vital members of interdisciplinary healthcare teams in hospitals, mental health institutions, hospices, nursing homes, or facilities for the severely disabled. They offer critically needed spiritual and emotional support to patients and their families who are facing the most difficult times in their lives. Serving as a bridge between patients, families and medical staff, chaplains provide counsel on the religious implications of a variety of healthcare options, including end of life issues and organ donation.

Ecclesiastical Endorsement

Ecclesiastical endorsement is the written acknowledgement by a faith group/denomination that an individual is in good standing and meets the qualifications for clergy credentials with their faith group/denomination. Generally speaking, major institutions, federal/state correctional systems, and healthcare facilities require that chaplains and pastoral counselors have the endorsement of their respective faith group/denomination. At the May 2004 meeting of the Commission on Chaplains adopted the following criteria for endorsement.

ADVANCED CHAPLAINCY ENDORSEMENT

  • Ordination
  • 2 years pastoral experience
  • MDIV (or its equivalent) with an institution accredited with Association of Theological Schools (ATS)
  • 4 Units of CPE preferred, amount determined by hiring agency
  • Active, full-time paid chaplaincy position
  • Eligible for certification with professional organization
  • References including one from their District
  • Background check
  • Credit check
  • Approval by Endorser
  • Interview with the Commission on Chaplains

STANDARD CHAPLAINCY ENDORSEMENT

  • Ordination
  • 2 years pastoral experience
  • Education as required by hiring agency
  • CPE as required by hiring agency
  • Be an active, paid chaplain working full or part time in a chaplaincy ministry.
  • References including one from their District
  • Background check
  • Credit check
  • Approval by Endorser
  • Interview with the Commission on Chaplains

BASIC CHAPLAINCY ENDORSEMENT

  • General Council or District level credentials
  • Ministry experience
  • Education as required by hiring agency
  • References including one from their District
  • Background check
  • Credit check
  • Personal interview with a representative of the Department
  • Approval given by endorser
  • Ratification by Commission on Chaplains

Hospital Chaplaincy

The Chaplaincy Department encourages applicants seeking endorsement as hospital chaplains to meet the criteria outlined by the Association of Professional Chaplains (see Frequently Asked Questions). Within the professional field, the following qualifications are desired for hospital chaplains. However, it is understood that all hospitals do not require their chaplains to meet these qualifications.

  • A Master of Divinity degree or the equivalent (72 hours) from an American Theological School (ATS) accredited seminary or school of theology.
  • Ordained by the Assemblies of God.
  • Two years of pastoral ministry with experience in conducting: baptisms, communion services, weddings, funerals, and death notifications.
  • Willingness to provide and coordinate programs for individuals of all faiths.
  • Pass physical examination required by the hiring institution.
  • Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) four units/1600 hours, accredited by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education.
  • Make application to the National Chaplaincy Department for Endorsement. Level of endorsement is determined by the Chaplaincy Department and is based upon education, ministerial credentials, and employment status. (See Endorsement Levels.)
  • Interview with Commission on Chaplains or Chaplaincy Representative, depending on Endorsement Level.

Hospice

The Chaplaincy Department recognizes that there are no universal qualifications for hospice chaplains, therefore, the Department requires that applicants for endorsement meet the qualifications of the hiring institutions. Within the professional field, the following qualifications are desired for hospice chaplains.

  • A Bachelors degree.
  • Credentialed with the Assemblies of God.
  • Two years of ministry with experience in conducting: baptisms, communion services, weddings, funerals, and death notifications.
  • Willingness to provide spiritual support for individuals of all faiths.
  • Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) one unit/400 hours, accredited by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education.
  • Make application to the National Chaplaincy Department for Endorsement. Level of endorsement is determined by the Chaplaincy Department and is based upon education, ministerial credentials, and employment status. (See Endorsement Levels.)
  • Interview with Commission on Chaplains or Chaplaincy Representative, depending on Endorsement Level.

Nursing Home

The Chaplaincy Department recognizes that there are no universal qualifications for nursing home chaplains, therefore, the Department requires that applicants for endorsement meet the qualifications of the hiring institutions. Within the professional field, the following qualifications are desired for nursing home chaplains.

  • A Bachelors degree.
  • Credentialed by the Assemblies of God.
  • Two years of ministry with experience in conducting: baptisms, communion services, funerals, and death notifications.
  • Willingness to provide spiritual support for individuals of all faiths.
  • Make application to the National Chaplaincy Department for Endorsement. Level of endorsement is determined by the Chaplaincy Department and is based upon education, ministerial credentials, and employment status. (See Endorsement Levels.)
  • Interview with Commission on Chaplains or Chaplaincy Representative, depending on Endorsement Level.

Counseling

Generally speaking, endorsement is not required for counselors except for those certified by AAPC. However, for those counselors seeking endorsement the following qualifications apply:

  • Professional Education in Counseling: Graduate degree and/or certification by AAPC.
  • Credentialed by the Assemblies of God.
  • Professional License as required by the state in which the applicant practices counseling.
  • Membership in a professional organization preferred.
  • Counseling Experience: Advanced Level – 500 hours per year for three consecutive years; Specialized Level – 500 hours for one year.
  • Make application to the National Chaplaincy Department for Endorsement. Level of endorsement is determined by the Chaplaincy Department and is based upon education, ministerial credentials, and employment status. (See Endorsement Levels.)
  • Interview with Commission on Chaplains or Chaplaincy Representative, depending on Endorsement Level.

I/O Frequently Asked Questions

What is a chaplain?

Webster’s dictionary defines a chaplain as “a member of the clergy officially attached to a special group.” In the Assemblies of God, a chaplain is a person called by God to reach a particular group of people in a specialized setting with the love of Christ.

Where do chaplains minister?

The Assemblies of God currently has chaplains ministering in jails, prisons, juvenile facilities, nursing homes, hospitals, hospice centers, truck stops, rodeos, race tracks, rescue missions, airports, law enforcement agencies, fire departments, emergency medical services, industries, businesses, schools, sports arenas, motorcycle rallies and mental health facilities. We continue to expand into new areas as God leads.

What do chaplains do?

Chaplains perform a variety of functions depending on their ministry location, but there are general functions common to all. Opportunities for evangelism, discipleship, and pastoral counseling, as well as the administrative duties of record keeping and scheduling of time and facilities are part of the ministry. In addition, preaching and Bible studies give chaplains freedom to expound God’s Word in a variety of settings.

What is Ecclesiastical Endorsement?

Ecclesiastical endorsement is both a legal and technical term in chaplaincy. It is the official process by which a denomination evaluates chaplain applicants and certifies to hiring agencies that the applicant is qualified for a particular chaplaincy position. In the Assemblies of God, this process begins with a written application for endorsement and culminates with a personal interview with the Commission on Chaplains or Chaplaincy Representative.

What is the Commission on Chaplains?

The Commission on Chaplains is the approving and endorsing agency for the Assemblies of God. The Commission grants ecclesiastical endorsement to interviewed applicants for Institutional, Occupational, Military and Veterans Affairs chaplaincy who meet all requirements for their field of ministry.

What is CPE?

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is an interfaith professional education for ministry. It brings theological students and ministers of all faiths (pastors, priests, rabbis, imams and others) into supervised encounters with persons in crisis. Out of an intense involvement with persons in need, and the feedback from peers and teachers, students develop new awareness of themselves as persons and of the needs of those to whom they minister. From theological reflection on specific human situations, they gain a new understanding of ministry. Within the interdisciplinary team process of helping persons, they develop skills in interpersonal and inter-professional relationships. Clinical Pastoral Education includes the goals of pastoral reflection, pastoral formation, pastoral competence and pastoral specialization.

Are there openings for chaplains across the United States?

Yes. Many healthcare facilities are growing and establishing or expanding chaplaincy. Growth in state and federal prison populations means correctional chaplaincies are also growing. In addition, settings in industry and specialized ministries offer opportunities to reach people who are not normally touched by the gospel. For qualified and dedicated men and women, there are unlimited possibilities for chaplaincy ministry.

How can I find a chaplaincy position?

There is no national clearinghouse for all chaplaincies, so finding a position requires some commitment. Contact the Chaplaincy Department for specific information and to learn how other chaplains have located positions.

What are the qualifications for certification by the Association of Professional Chaplains for healthcare chaplains?

  • Bachelor’s Degree from a college or university that is accredited by a member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
  • Theological education at the graduate professional level involving a minimum of three years (72 credit hours) from an institution accredited by the Council of Higher Education Accreditation.
  • Ordination by an appropriate religious authority.
  • Endorsement by a recognized religious faith group for ministry as a chaplain.
  • Four units (1600 hours) of Clinical Education accredited by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education.
  • A minimum of one year’s full-time experience as a chaplain apart from clinical training or residency.

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