Welcome to this process of discernment concerning your move towards military or VA chaplaincy. This is a discernment and validation of ministry process performed in participation and consultation with your presbytery. Please realize it will take many days, weeks or even months to complete depending on your own life experiences and those working with you to discern God’s will in your life. If you are not a member of one of our four Presbyterian Denominations, please contact us by phone (202) 244-4177 or email.
To help you through this process please follow these steps:
Talk with your family, mentors, fellow pastors, and those who can help you discern this option for your ministry. Look through our FAQs section. The FAQs may help you think about different topics that you might address with others and yourself as you move through this process.
3. Consider the General Requirements
Consider carefully if you can qualify by meeting these general requirements:
- Sensitive to religious pluralism and able to provide for the free exercise of religion by all military personnel, their family members and civilians who work with that military service.
- Possess a baccalaureate degree of not less than 120 semester hours or 180 quarter hours from an accredited college or university.*
- Possess a 72 semester hours or 108 quarter hours of graduate credit in theological or religious studies from an accredited school to include an earned graduate degree.*
- Be a U.S. Citizen, the Army may consider permanent resident for individuals entering the reserve programs.
- Specific military requirements.
- Be able to receive a favorable background check.
- Be able to pass a physical exam.
- Be between 21 and 42 years old (age waivers may be granted based on years of prior service).
* If your degree is from a foreign college or university, it must be reviewed through an American accrediting process to determine its equivalence.
4. Consider which type of federal chaplaincy will best suits you and your life style
Understand that federal chaplaincy varies widely. FBOP Chaplains are dealing with incarcerated individuals, VA chaplains deal with a lot of medical chaplaincy issues and Military chaplains has it own stresses and strains that is different even between the different branches of the military. Each has its own particular stresses and strains. See Contemplating Ministry page for more information. If you would like to talk with a chaplain from a specific service, please contact us and we will connect you with a Presbyterian chaplain from that service. Call us at 202-244-4177 or email.
5. Complete the Application
- Military Endorsement Application (PDF)
- Veterans Affairs Endorsement Application (PDF) (FBOP Please use this application)
We must have signed applications to begin processing it. The adobe form has an electronic signature. If for some reason you cannot electronically sign the application, please physically sign it, scan the application into a file and sent it via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please ensure all items in section J of the Military Endorsement Application are accomplished, and section I for the Veterans Affairs Endorsement Application. Please note: we are no longer requiring a tape sermon for VA chaplaincy applications; this will be updated in the next version of the application.
If you denomination does not use Personal Information Forms, your personal resume will be accepted.
6. Contact your References
To facilitate the processing of your application, please let individuals who you identify as references know that you are using them as a reference.
7. Check in with your Presbytery
As this has a direct impact on your call and ministry, we must have your presbytery’s authorization. Active Duty Chaplaincy and Veteran Affairs Chaplaincy are considered “specialized ministry.” Reserve and National Guard ministry also create issues that need to be negotiated if you are pastoring in a church, such as what happens if you are called to extended active duty in case of a national emergency. Please make sure you are talking with appropriate individuals at your presbytery regarding this process. In most cases, it would be the Committee on Ministry or its equivalent, in some in may be the stated clerk or presbyter executive.
8. Interview Process
Individuals seeking endorsement with the VA or Civil Air Patrol, will typically be interview by a Full-Time VA Chaplain, or in the case of CAP with a military chaplain. We try to have one of our Presbyterian Chaplains closest to you do the interview. You are expected to travel to meet with them if it is reasonable. If such travel is impractical, we will have you complete the interview by phone. If for some reason the interviewing chaplains is not satisfied with the interview, you will be invited to meet with the interview committee at their next meeting.
Individuals seeking endorsement as a military chaplain will meet with the interview committee. Typically these meetings are held three times a year at different locations and will be scheduled when there is reasonable numbers to justify a meeting. Interviews are typically an hour in length and seeks to established how well the interviewee would work with a military unit. Most members of the interview committee served or are serving as military chaplains.