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Become a chaplain

A chaplain’s ministry of witness and service extends God’s love and service in a variety of settings. If you are considering a call to RCA chaplaincy, read on to learn more about the types of ministry possible, the process of becoming an RCA chaplain, and the ways the RCA supports its chaplains.

Types of chaplain ministry

Campus chaplaincy
These chaplains are creative and innovative as they demonstrate God’s grace and love to students, faculty, alumni, and administrators at colleges, universities, seminaries, high schools, and other education settings.

Corporate chaplaincy
Corporate chaplains provide ministry at manufacturing sites, recreational sites, business offices, corporate headquarters, and community settings. They help employees discover spiritual resources and faith by providing pastoral care and counseling, religious education, and (in some cases) worship services. Some chaplains in this setting serve at the management level, helping form and implement moral and ethical policies.

Healthcare chaplaincy
Healthcare chaplains are trained to serve in an environment of sickness, pain, birth, and death. Total patient care provides for a person’s spiritual needs, as well as physical and mental needs. Chaplain services offering pastoral care in hospital, hospice, or other medical settings is a key service in total patient care.

Military chaplaincy
The military depends upon all faith groups to provide theologically trained, spiritually motivated, qualified ministers to serve as chaplains to all military branches. These chaplains provide enlisted personnel and their families with resources through which they may exercise their right to freedom of religion. RCA chaplains have served in all major conflicts since the Revolutionary War. Military chaplaincy commitments range from full-time employment to volunteer service.

Prison chaplaincy
Prison chaplains serve in correctional facilities operated by federal, state/province, county, and local agencies, as well as corporate correctional facilities. They offer pastoral care, worship services, and support to those incarcerated. Each jurisdiction has particular qualifications for hiring chaplains.

First-responder chaplaincy
Public safety and community chaplains demonstrate God’s grace and love as they serve with law enforcement personnel, fire departments, and emergency service agencies. Working as pastors, comforters, and counselors, they minister to the community members served by these agencies as well as the agency employees.

Apply for endorsement

Chaplain ministry requires specialized training in order to be endorsed for service by the RCA. Ecclesiastical endorsement is the process that has been established, and that the RCA follows, to ensure clergy possess the skills and competencies required to serve in specialized ministries. Both employers and professional certifying bodies look to religious organizations for this endorsement because:

  • It confirms a person’s suitability for ministry in a particular setting.
  • It verifies the denomination’s support for a person’s ministry beyond church walls.
  • It offers assurance that the person has no legal or moral barrier to ministry.
  • It states that the person will accommodate the religious rights of all people within their institution’s scope of care.

To begin the endorsement process, please download the application for RCA chaplaincy endorsement and follow the instructions for completing and submitting the form.

Be supported

Every year all RCA chaplains who have been endorsed and certified are invited to attend an annual conference. This gathering, which takes place prior to General Synod, offers mutual support and accountability, as well as renewal and networking possibilities for participants. It also provides a place to experience a variety of learning models through theological reflection. Past participants have identified the experience as transformative, challenging, and refreshing.

RCA chaplains are also served year-round by Alan Baker, supervisor for chaplain ministries, who communicates with chaplains via a private Facebook group and e-newsletters. Contact Alan if you have questions about RCA chaplain ministry at

Chaplains: Specialized Ministry in a Global Setting