Endorsement is a professional credential that affirms to an employer that a person in chaplaincy is, or will be, performing a valid ministry of the church, and has presented evidence of calling and training for that ministry. Ecclesiastical Endorsement means that the candidate is a member or minister of the church in good standing and has completed appropriate training for the specialized ministry. Endorsement creates a covenant of mutual commitment, accountability, and support between the chaplain and the denomination or faith group organization. It states a level of denominational connection and a standard of excellence to the using agency.
Ecclesiastical Endorsement is the certification which permits the chaplain to minister in the name of the parent denomination. Furthermore, the Ecclesiastical Endorsement is the authentication by the denomination that the prospective chaplain is not only in good standing with the ordaining body, but is a person highly qualified to serve as a chaplain.
Ecclesiastical Endorsement is required by virtually all government or public agencies that hire chaplains. It is required by most private organizations that hire chaplains. It is required for membership and certification in most professional associations. Some organizations require an update of the endorsement at periodic intervals. Endorsement is a significant step in achieving the highest levels of professional certification.
The Significance of An Endorsement An endorsement is only good for a specific period of time, for a specific institution. Endorsement means that a minister is on temporary "loan" from their church to an organization. At almost anytime, for a variety of reasons, a Chaplain can have his/her endorsement withdrawn and the minister quickly becomes a "non-chaplain." If the Chaplain does not perform to the high standards of chaplaincy or is guilty of major sin, her/his endorsement is likely to be "pulled" (prematurely terminated). Ultimately, endorsement links all Chaplains to their churches in matters of accountability and spiritual oversight. Thus, Chaplains are continuously accountable to their sponsoring church, ordaining authority, the endorsing agency, and to the institution of which they are a part. Since an endorsement is a very serious legal document, Endorsing Agencies are charged by God, the government, and various professional organizations to credential only their very finest clergy as chaplains. To date, there are approximately 150 federally recognized endorsing agencies, representing all major religions, denominations, and faith groups.
An Endorsement Is Not An Ecclesiastical Endorsement is not a letter of recommendation. Anyone or any church can write a recommendation. Only recognized ecclesiastical endorsing agencies can legally endorse. An Ecclesiastical Endorsement is not ordination. Only a denomination, faith group, or church has the God-given authority to ordain. Bethel Ministries International (BMI) and Chaplain Fellowship Ministries AR respect and recognizes the autonomous authority of its member churches and fellowship groups to ordain their clergy. However, BMI will occasionally ordain prospective Chaplains on the authority and at the request of the churches and fellowship groups that it represents.
An Endorsement Is An Ecclesiastical Endorsement is a legal document that states that an ordained minister is spiritually, doctrinally, educationally, and professionally qualified to represent his/her Faith Group in a specialized setting (beyond the local church) ministering to all in a religiously diverse context. Simply stated, an endorsement is the document that makes a "general" minister a very specialized one -- a "Chaplain."
The Application Process? Before we will endorse a minister, or reccommend a individual he/she must complete a very thorough application process. All ministers must document their basic background information, testimony (of salvation, beliefs and experiences), education, and professional experience. Generally no specific educational or professional ministry background beyond that which the prospective chaplain's institution is required. Nevertheless, the BMI desire that its professional Chaplains have some form of clinical education in their educational process. Next, the BMI will conduct a criminal background check with a licensed private investigator as well as a spiritual background check with the minister's pastor, ministerial colleagues, and ordaining authorities. Professional chaplaincy applicants will be then interviewed in-person by a member or friend of the BMI's organization. In addition to all of the above requirements, the prospective Chaplain will be instructed that he/she must have a willingness to minister to all people regardless of their ethnic, religious backgrounds, and moral values. This is quite a challenge to many clergy, but if a minister desires to be a Chaplain he/she must agree, in writing, to be a servant to all, without discrimination.
Most churches and Faith Group organizations have special agencies that deal directly with the issue of Ecclesiastical Endorsement. To apply for Ecclesiastical Endorsement contact your own denomination/faith group's endorsement agency.