The chaplain candidate program is designed to prepare and equip an individual to serve among the men and women serving our country. It provides an opportunity to explore the unique experience and calling inherent in the chaplaincy.
If you are interested in training as a candidate, the Evangelical Chaplains Commission can help you explore the opportunities. There are two major things to understand when considering training as a chaplain candidate under the approval of the Commission:
Your church body recognizes the calling on your life.
Like all pastors in training, chaplain candidates have been recognized as individuals that God is uniquely calling. You are expected to study diligently, seek practical experience and engage in church leadership.
As a result, we require that all of our candidates and applicants be recommended to us by a church or denomination that is a member of the Evangelical Chaplains Commission. For more information regarding on church membership, explore the Denominations and Churches portion of the Evangelical Chaplains Commission website.
You must be approved for training.
A military chaplain recruiter will inform you that the Department of Defense requires that chaplain candidates be approved by an approved entity. As an endorsing agent, the Evangelical Chaplains Commission is a crucial part of your entry process into training.
An endorsement is an ongoing relationship that lasts the duration of a chaplains service and beyond. Our detailed approval endorsement process enables us to ensure that our candidates develop into quality chaplains for service in areas that span our country and world.
There are eight requirements that you must meet in order to be eligible for ecclesiastical approval through the Evangelical Chaplains Commission:
- Applicant must be affiliated with a denomination or independent local church that is a member of the NAE and the Evangelical Chaplains Commission.
- Applicant must be an active and ministering member of the local church body.
- Applicant must have completed or be pursuing a Master of Divinity or equivalent degree. The degree must consist of 72 semester hours or more of graduate level theological studies in an accredited institution. If the degree has not yet been completed, the individual must provide a letter of acceptance from an approved and accredited educational institution stating that they are pursuing an equivalent level of education.
- Applicant must meet all qualifications of the military branch to which he or she is applying. These include but are not limited to age, education, physical fitness and mental/spiritual aptitude.
- Applicant must meet all qualifications of their denomination or local independent church for ordination and be actively pursuing ordination.
- Applicant must receive the written endorsement of their local congregation and its spiritual leadership.
- Applicant must fully complete the Evangelical Chaplains Commission Application for Ecclesiastical Endorsement and submit it to the Evangelical Chaplains Commission along with the appropriate application fee.
- Applicant must be interviewed by the executive director of the Evangelical Chaplains Commission or their designee and assessed for spiritual calling, aptitude and disposition to be a military chaplain.
After all of the above have been satisfactorily completed, the final decision for granting ecclesiastical approval will reside with the executive director of the Evangelical Chaplains Commission. Following approval, the appropriate documents will be submitted to the Office of the Chief of Chaplains. Once they receive their orders, chaplain candidates are required to pay dues to the Commission.
The Evangelical Chaplains Commission, although it operates under the authority and as a part of the National Association of Evangelicals, is not funded or staffed by the parent organization. The Evangelical Chaplains Commission elects its own officers and has its own budget. Operating funds are raised through dues assessed to the members, active duty and reserve chaplains. The deadline for dues each year is June 30.
- Each chaplain or candidate who is endorsed or approved by the Evangelical Chaplains Commission is required to pay annual dues in addition to those paid by their church.
- Active duty chaplains who draw their endorsement from the Evangelical Chaplains Commission are assessed at 2.5 percent of their monthly base pay.
- National Guard, Reserve, or Veterans Affairs Chaplains endorsed by the Evangelical Chaplains Commission are assessed at 2.5 percent of their monthly chaplain income.
- Chaplain Candidates, Institutional Chaplains*, and Chaplains in Non-Paying Military Status pay annual dues at a rate of $50.
*Institutional chaplains include those serving as civil air patrol, police, fire department, hospital and prison chaplains.
Contact the National Association of Evangelicals to start the process.