All chaplains are pastors, but not every pastor is called to be a chaplain.  Chaplains are like medical doctors who specialize in certain fields of medicine.  Chaplains minister in special settings:  campus, community, corrections, healthcare and military institutions and organizations.  However, the same foundational pastoral proficiencies are essential.

A minimum of two years of pastoral experience is required in order to be considered for ecclesiastical endorsement as a chaplain.  Employment as a church pastor is not always available to every applicant.  When otherwise qualified, if an applicant lacks the normative pastoral background, the NAD Working Policy provides alternative ways for obtaining the essential functional, pastoral care proficiencies.  One method is to coordinate a Memorandum of Understanding and Agreement (MOUA) on a case-by-case basis between ACM, a local conference, an ordained supervisory pastor approved by the conference, and an applicant for chaplaincy.  For applicants who are otherwise qualified, this is an acceptable method for acquiring pastoral experience and ministerial credentials.  This MOUA outlines the conditions and necessary functional skill training to be accomplished that would normally be expected of a ministerial intern on track toward ordination.  When all parties to the MOUA verify that sufficient pastoral experience has been satisfactorily achieved, ACM will include the written evidence in the application packet and present it to the ACM Committee for their consideration of ecclesiastical endorsement.

The service stipulated in the MOUA could be as an associate pastor for a larger church congregation, or caring for one or two churches within a multi-church district, etc.  The applicant should be elected as a local elder in those churches where he or she serves. Such service is voluntary and part-time, though a stipend can be paid the applicant.  Obviously, the applicant may need to be “bi-vocational” and work at other income-producing employment to provide for personal and / or family living expenses.

The applicant has the responsibility to identify a legitimate need for ministry and work with a local pastor and local conference officials in arranging for authorization to assist
a pastor and church(es).  ACM can assist in clarifying MOUA standards with a conference.  Like any other intern or pastor on track toward ordination, the applicant must demonstrate calling, capability, caring and competency.  The applicant is encouraged to keep a written log of every professional activity performed; the log should show date, event and pastoral care / support provided.  Attached are the requirements that must be performed and evaluated.  Completion of all the requirements does not diminish or eliminate the two years’ time requirement.   An ordained minister / supervisor must sign off on each requirement that it has been satisfactorily accomplished by the applicant.  Quarterly performance counseling should be done by the supervisory minister to the applicant / intern.  Suggestion:  make copies of the Functional Pastoral Skill list and use it as a guide for the counseling session.  Score to show current standing.  Applicants must submit an annual progress report to ACM.

Download the MOUA document HERE.