From the Worldwide Faith News archives

What does it take be an Army chaplain?

From NewsDesk <NewsDesk@UMCOM.ORG>
Date Fri, 25 Oct 2002 14:25:35 -0500

Oct. 25, 2002	News media contact: Kathy Gilbert7(615)742-54707Nashville,
Tenn.	10-71B{490}

NOTE: This following article may be used as a sidebar to UMNS #489.

By United Methodist News Service

Some United Methodist pastors who have answered God's call to become
chaplains in the U.S. Army have felt misunderstood and even abandoned by
their church.

They have been asked, "Why are you leaving the ministry?" 

Being an Army chaplain means spending more time in foxholes, on ships and
jumping out of airplanes, than behind pulpits in church buildings.

Chaplains are trained to "perform or provide, cooperate without compromise,
and do anything for the good of the solider," says Chaplain Col. Samuel J.T.
Boone, deputy commander of the Fort Jackson U.S. Army Chaplain Center and
School in Columbia, S.C. 

"These are gifted men and women, who bring both discipline and grace to a
challenging and potentially dangerous context," says the Rev. Pat Barrett,
staff executive in the denomination's Section of Chaplains and Related

"In addition to being spiritually fit --and spiritual maturity is essential
to this ministry -- they must be physically fit enough to keep up with the
troops. They must have both the gifts and the skills for the public and the
personal ministry, caring for the heart and speaking to authority."

In the United Methodist Church, applicants for chaplaincy in a military
branch must obtain ecclesiastical endorsement through the United Methodist
Board of Higher Education and Ministry's Section of Chaplains and Related
Ministries, Nashville, Tenn. Applicants must be ordained and in full
membership in an annual conference and they must graduate or have graduated
from an accredited college and seminary.

"I believe there is one ministry of Jesus Christ, expressed in diverse ways
and many places, and utilizing a variety of gifts. The ministry of chaplains
is one of those expressions, and calls for particular gifts," Barrett says.
"From time to time we hear that we have 'left the ministry,' but in reality
by appointment we are extending the ministry of the church to persons and
places beyond the local church. So we are partners in ministry, not
deserters," Barrett says.

Applicants for U.S. army chaplaincy must have: 
7	An ecclesiastical endorsement from their faith group
7	Spiritual, moral, intellectual and emotional qualifications to serve
as a chaplain
7	Sensitivity to religious pluralism and the ability to provide for
free exercise of religion by all military personnel, their family members
and civilians who work for the Army
7	A baccalaureate degree of not less than 120 semester hours
7	A master's degree in divinity or a graduate degree in theological
studies, which includes at least 72 hours.
7	U.S. citizenship or green card
7	Physical fitness for general service based on an examination by the

Ordained United Methodists may serve in the Army as a full-time active or
part time as a reservist. Army chaplains enter the service as an officer
after attending the Chaplain Officer Basic Course. 

"Some tell me they chose to be Army chaplains as a way of expressing
citizenship; others, who met Christ through the ministry of a chaplain, want
to share Christ in that community; some grew up in the service, others were
introduced to the setting through retired military or reservists in their
congregations. But all affirm that this is first a call to ministry,"
Barrett says.

For more information visit the section of chaplains Web site at or for
information about the chaplain school at Fort Jackson, S.C.
# # #

United Methodist News Service
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