Wednesday, January 20, 2010

News on Endorsement for Episcopal Chaplains

Let me take a few moments to speak to Episcopal Healthcare Chaplains and those who are exploring that ministry and that call. I know that folks find their ways to this blog because of that interest. I’ve written about that in a longer post, but there have been some procedural changes worth note.

For some time, the process of ecclesiastical endorsement, required by our various professional certifying organizations, has been overseen within the Office of the Bishop Suffragan of Chaplaincies (now the Office of the Bishop Suffragan of Federal Chaplaincies) in the Episcopal Church Center (815). However, there’s been an extensive process of reorganization at 815, still in process, and it will affect somewhat procedures for endorsement.

Endorsement in the Episcopal Church continues to be a process involving both the Episcopal Church Center and diocesan bishops. The Bishop of Chaplaincies or his representative would contact the appropriate diocesan bishop to ask that bishop to endorse the chaplain. If so, then that Office would become the “office of record,” and would communicate that endorsement to the applicant, and to the appropriate certifying body or bodies. However, the Office has been focused once again on Federal chaplaincies (military, Veterans Administration, Federal Corrections, and Federal law enforcement), and with that in mind has been moved to the Washington office of the Church. Bishop Packard will be retiring this year, and his successor will have this new, narrowed focus. (For those of us who have worked with Bishop Packard and his predecessors, this does feel like something of a loss; but with so many in the military in active duty and harms way, it makes good sense to me personally.)

All chaplaincy ministries are now under the broader jurisdiction of the Office of Ministry Development. In one sense, that doesn’t mean a great change in endorsement. The same office staff at 815 will process endorsement applications. Someone at 815 will still be calling diocesan bishops to ask about endorsement, and communicating the results appropriately. However, some of transition is still in process. The Application for Endorsement is still posted at the Office of the Bishop Suffragan for Federal Chaplaincies, while waiting to be moved and linked from new Ministry Development web pages. We’re also waiting to learn which staff person at 815 will relate to healthcare chaplains and the various professional organizations.

So in the meantime, if you’re pursuing endorsement or need your endorsement renewed, link to the Application page. In addition to the form itself, it also has contact information that will help if you have questions about the current process.

And for those of you who aren’t pursuing certification and are curious about whether you should seek endorsement, you can read my reasons that you should.

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