When you hear the word “chaplain,” do you envision a pastor standing by a hospital bed? Chaplaincy in the twenty-first century has entered many different areas. Today chaplains serve in the workplace, on university campuses, in the military, behind prison walls, with law enforcement, in airports, and more.
When Seventh-day Adventist pastors choose chaplaincy as an expression of ministry, these individuals enter a specialized field of pastoral ministry. The work of the chaplain isn’t within the walls of a church building. Instead, chaplains are called to minister in pluralistic settings to people of different faiths, and to those of no faith.
For the past 30 years Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries (ACM) has assisted Adventist chaplains through recruitment, endorsement, board certification, training, and support.
ACM assists institutions both within and outside the walls of the church to recruit chaplains by providing guidance and information about chaplaincy. Today hundreds of Adventist chaplains serve in academies, colleges, universities, and hospitals. They also minister in government institutions, such as prisons, armed forces, airports, law enforcement, and fire and rescue.
The professional credentials of ecclesiastical endorsement and board certification demonstrate chaplains have completed graduate educational preparation and received appropriate professional training. Individuals are licensed ministers, experienced chaplains, and members in good standing in a local church. This also provides accountability between chaplains and the Seventh-day Adventist Church.Government and public agencies, private organizations, and professional associations often require chaplains to be endorsed by their denomination and possess professional certification.
In accordance with General Conference Working Policy, each of the 13 world divisions is responsible for the endorsement of chaplains within their territory. The General Conference ACM Department provides professional board certification for all qualified Adventist chaplains.
Ministerial educational training is the first step that chaplains must complete. Undergraduate studies in theology and pastoral ministry build the foundation for future chaplains’ roles to guide individuals through life’s challenges.
Graduate and specialized training in chaplaincy is offered at the Adventist University of Africa in Kenya, Andrews University and Loma Linda University in the United States, the Inter-American Adventist Theological Seminary, and the Latin-American Adventist Theological Seminary at River Plate Adventist University in Argentina. Additional graduate chaplaincy degrees are under development at other Adventist universities.
Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is a supervised, graduate-level, professional education in pastoral care, conducted in a clinical setting. The first Seventh-day Adventist CPE center outside of North America opened at Sydney Adventist Hospital in Australia. A second CPE center was established at Adventist Medical Center–Manila in the Philippines, and is one of the primary CPE centers in that country (see photo on page 8).
The most recent CPE training began in the Inter-American Division with seven pastors at the Bella Vista Hospital in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.
The General Conference ACM Department envisions operational Seventh-day Adventist-sponsored CPE centers in each of the 13 world divisions one day.
Union and division ACM departments support their chaplains with materials, training, endorsement, and credentialing.
The General Conference ACM Department publishes The Adventist Chaplain, a quarterly professional journal, available to all Seventh-day Adventist chaplains upon request. It also provides online information about chaplaincy at AdventistChaplains.org.
Prior to this sixtieth General Conference session, chaplains from around the world attended the Adventist Chaplains World Congress and received training in their specialized area of chaplaincy.
ACM is poised to expand in the academic, professional, and clinical training of chaplaincy. Further development of professional certification will provide skilled, qualified chaplains to support the global mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.