The Rt. Rev. Ray R. Sutton
c/o Church of the Holy Communion
17405 Muirfield Dr.
Dallas, TX 75287

Phone: 972-248-6505
Email: chaplaincy@rechurch.org

Please select an area:

Military Chaplaincy & Candidacy
Veteran's Affairs Chaplaincy
Prison Chaplaincy
Civil Air Patrol / State Militia
Frequently Asked Questions
Chaplaincy Links

Thoughts about the Chaplaincy

The following is an excerpt from an address on the Chaplaincy given by the Rt. Rev. George Packard.

"I want to invite you to an undocumented time in history when two armies are poised just before the moment when swords come down on shields and an enormous roar rises around you. Up the far side of the hill you were beating the flat side of sword against shield to create a great din while giving rhythm to the march toward what fate held for you. Perspiration and heavy breathing are in the air...and so is fear.

From the corner of your eye you see St. Martin's cloak riding on a pole. The impression is as palpable as all the organized expressions of bravery and it radiates an island of calm. A breeze rustles it and still the garment gives assurance. How divine and eternal moments come from such hardscrabble times!

There is an enduring truth behind this great story about St. Martin of Tours. The scene is outside the city gate, Amiens, France in the year 337. Martin dismounts after battle, cuts his cloak in half and gives it to a beggar, and then dreams-realizes-that it was Christ whom he had clothed. It sounds like a folktale but it is also archetypal. Recall with me how St. Francis of Assisi, also a soldier, encounters a beggar after a battle, dismounts and embraces him...and it is also Christ! Something profound is at work here for the human spirit as God reveals to us what we can finally see...when we most need to see it.

After his encounter St. Martin tried to live a normal life but everything he did was different. He could not take his place in the regiment again and he could not associate with others in the same way. Little by little his experience with Christ took over his whole existence. He found himself compromising military duties and worrying about whether the afflicted had a companion in their suffering--the reverse of what his profession of soldiering had intended for him to do. This enduring charism in St. Martin was revealed through Christ's identification with suffering and it would be lived out in chaplaincy, in perpetuity. We may change the scene, move ahead some centuries, and Christ is still waiting for us after trauma and terror. When relief is offered through such companionship...it is unforgettable.

The term "chaplain" comes from the word for the garment or "chapela" worn by the priest who accompanied troops to war modeling themselves on St. Martin. Soon the garment itself was displayed and held high for all to see-despite the turmoil of battle-it was a symbol of God's presence.

I invite you to stand in admiration with me of all the chaplains you have ever met. Perhaps some have worked in a hospital or maybe you recall a chaplain when you served in the military. There may have been a chaplain at the school you attended. No doubt you came to know a chaplain during a period of transition in your life. Across different institutional settings their work can be portrayed in a number of ways which enhance our understanding of ministry."

Today, we endorse Chaplains for all sorts of ministries, Military, Hospital, Prisons, Veterans Administration, Police and Fire. These ministries are conducted by men ordained to the Presbyterate in the Reformed Episcopal Church or her ministry partners including the Province of the Anglican Church of North America. Please keep them always in your prayers.

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Military Chaplaincy & Candidacy / Candidate Program

The chaplain candidate programs allow seminary students to gain ministry experience and serve their country while studying for ordination. The United States Army Reserve, Army National Guard, Navy, Reserve and Air Force Reserve all provide a chaplain candidate program for seminary students who are interested in becoming military chaplains. Chaplain candidates are full time seminary students who have graduated with a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university with at least 120 semester hours. Chaplain candidates are directly commissioned as 2nd Lieutenants or Ensigns (O-1) and attend a basic officer's training course. Chaplain candidates are paid as officers (O-1) and may also receive educational benefits as well. Chaplain candidates endorsed by the Reformed Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of North America should be practicing Anglicans pursing ordination to the presbyterate through the canonical process of one of the ACNA dioceses or sub-jurisdictions. The various branches of the military have different requirements for joining their chaplain candidate programs. The requirements can be found at these locations:

Army: http://www.goarmy.com/chaplain/chaplain_candidate_prog.jsp

Navy: http://www.navy.com/careers/officer/chaplain/
* The Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Navy are under the same command

Air Force: http://www.afrc.af.mil/library/chaplain/howtojoin/candidate/index.asp

For Chaplains seeking affiliation with the Reformed Episcopal Church, ACNA, and her ministry partners.
Chaplains endorsed by other ecclesiastical agencies will find, in a number of cases, it possible to transfer their endorsement to the Reformed Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in North America. A specific process is involved. They should contact Bishop Royal Grote in order to insure that all pertinent canonical requirements are met before endorsement.

In general, the military's requirements are:
  • - U.S. citizenship
  • - Education - undergraduate degree and M.Div.*
  • - Ordained Presbyter (priest). The Reformed Episcopal Church requires 2 years experience as a priest*
  • - Commissioning must be done by the age of 39 (but this may vary; check with the Army, Navy, Air Force chaplain recruiter)
  • *Except for seminarian Chaplain Candidate Program
What is the Reformed Episcopal Church endorsement process?
  1. - Discuss with your bishop the call to become a chaplain and obtain his consent to apply for a chaplain program position.
  2. - Complete an application form for the Office of the Bishop for Chaplaincies.
  3. - Contact the military branch chaplain recruiter to find out the military requirements pertaining to age limits, physical fitness and the military application process.
  4. - Upon receipt of your application form Bishop Sutton will seek your Diocesan Bishop's formal approval and create a file.
  5. - Upon completion of your file (which includes the standard Reformed Episcopal Church background check), be prepared to meet with Bishop Sutton and an examination committee.


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Veteran's Affairs Chaplaincy

What do Veterans Affairs chaplains do?
VA chaplains are employed by the federal government to provide spiritual care and grief support to patients, family members and staff.

Who are VA chaplains?
VA Chaplains are ordained persons that sense a call to serve veterans in physical, spiritual or emotional need. VA chaplains come from a variety of backgrounds including parish ministry and military or hospital chaplaincy.

What relationship does the Bishop for Chaplaincies have with VA chaplains?
All federal chaplains (including VA) come under the oversight of the Bishop for Chaplaincies who coordinates with your diocesan bishop. You must be endorsed by this office before you can complete the application with the VA.

What are the minimum qualifications for a VA chaplain?
You must have completed a Master of Divinity degree, two units of Clinical Pastoral Education, and two years of ministry experience.

What is the endorsement process for VA Chaplains in the Reformed Episcopal Church?
  • - Applicants for endorsement need to apply only if they are in the process of being hired by the VA.
  • - Prior to applying, make sure your diocesan bishop concurs with your decision.
  • - Complete the application and send in your transcripts, a recent photograph, and an updated profile.
  • - Your diocesan bishop will be asked to fill out a reference questionnaire pertaining to you.
  • - Once your diocesan bishop has given a favorable reference, the personal references listed on your application will be contacted.
  • - A background check will be initiated.
  • - A personal interview will be arranged between you and the Bishop for Chaplaincies.
  • - A decision will be made and you will be notified.
When do patients and staff call on Veterans Affairs chaplains?
  • - Upon admission, to assess a veteran's spiritual needs
  • - When needing someone to listen
  • - When dealing with spiritual estrangement
  • - At the death of a loved one
  • - When there is a need to sort out ethical dilemmas in the clinical setting
  • - When in need of prayer and guidance
  • - In times of crisis during a hospital stay
  • - When there are problems with addiction
  • - When dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • - When facing hospice and palliative care issues
  • - When death is imminent
  • - When needed to provide support to VA staff who are caring for veterans

Does your call to ministry ask you to serve those who have served our nation?
As in any hospital ministry, veterans seek an assurance in the midst of health challenges. Could your call be such that you and the person you are visiting or counseling experience the fullness of Christ's presence and love in a hospital room, in a hallway, in a surgery waiting room or in a discussion about PTSD? If yes, perhaps this information will assist you in discerning if VA chaplaincy is for you. Contact our office to discuss the possibility of serving in this capacity.

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Prison Chaplaincy

A federal prison chaplain has a special calling to a community behind walls which includes both inmates and staff. Working within the prison structure places the chaplain in a unique position to provide a sensitive pastoral presence often unavailable to other clergy. It involves providing a worship and pastoral care ministry and it includes facilitating for the freedom of religious rights and diverse needs of inmates. Is God calling you to be a part of this special place of service?

What do prison chaplains do?
  • - Provide pastoral care and counseling to inmates and staff
  • - Lead worship services and also facilitate other opportunities that accommodate a variety of religious worship needs
  • - Lead classes/seminars for inmates; help train staff in the Annual Refresher Training
  • - Serve as an integral member of Crisis Support Teams throughout the Federal Bureau of Prisons

Who are BOP chaplains?
Federal prison chaplains are ordained persons that serve incarcerated persons and facilities of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP).

How do I become a Federal Prison chaplain?
In order to become a BOP chaplain you must apply to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Once you enter into their employment process you should apply for endorsement by the Bishop for Chaplaincies. Once endorsed by Bishop Grote, you come under his oversight since you will be serving in a federal facility.

What is the endorsement process in the Reformed Episcopal Church?
  • - Applicants for endorsement need to apply only if they are in the process of being hired by the Federal Bureau of Prisons as a chaplain. Check for updated job postings at www.bop.gov/jobs/job_descriptions/chaplain.jsp
  • - Prior to applying make sure your diocesan bishop concurs with your decision.
  • - Complete the application and send a recent photo of yourself, an updated profile, and have your college and seminary send our office official copies of your transcripts.
  • - Your diocesan bishop will be asked to complete a reference questionnaire pertaining to you.
  • - Once your diocesan bishop has given favorable reference, the personal references listed on your online application will be contacted.
  • - A background check will be initiated.
  • - A personal interview will be arranged for you to meet with the Bishop for Chaplaincies and possibly with other chaplains endorsed by our office.
  • - A decision will be made and you will be notified.
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Civil Air Patrol / State Militia

Chaplains serving in the Civil Air Patrol or State Militia often discover an amazing inroad into their community that allows them to be in contact with nonbelievers on a regular basis. Sometimes that contact occurs during emergency situations such as a local disaster. In such circumstances chaplains are able to minister God's love and grace to victims and surviving family members through compassion and prayer.

Chaplains invest in the lives of youth cadets and senior members of the groups by teaching classes, counseling those who seek help, and praying for those in the group.

To be fully equipped to perform as a chaplain in such programs one must be trained in Critical Incidence Stress Management (CISM). Other requirements vary, but one must be an ordained by the Reformed Episcopal Church or her ministry partners and have a master of divinity degree from an accredited seminary or university.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if my undergraduate or graduate school is an accredited institution?
If the school is listed in the Education Directory, U.S. Department of Education and/or the ATS Bulletin, it is considered by the Military to be an accredited school. Note: Reformed Episcopal Seminary in Blue Bell, PA is listed in the Education Directory.

When you say "pastoral experience" is needed, does it make a difference what size church I pastor?
No. Some chaplain candidates obtain their pastoral experience while going to seminary at smaller churches, while others serve as assistants or associates at larger churches. Breadth and quality of experience will be evaluated on a case by case basis, including factors such as time spent each week in ministry and duties performed (preaching, weddings, funerals, communion services, etc.)

Could serving as associate pastor or assistant pastor at a church be considered pastoral experience?
Yes, if considered adequate by the Office of the Bishop for Chaplaincies. In order to fulfill the pastoral requirements set forth by the Armed Forces and this Church, you need to possess pastoral skills to be endorsed as an Active Duty military chaplain. Pastoral skills include: sermon preparation and delivery, counseling, leading worship services and conducting what the government calls "sacerdotal" acts such as weddings, funerals, communion services and baptisms. The military wants pastors they can train to be chaplains, not chaplains that they have to train to be pastors.

If I want to be an Active Duty, Reserve/National Guard, or Veterans Affairs chaplain, do I need to meet with the Bishop or will a phone interview suffice?
Applications for endorsement cannot be completed without a personal interview by the Bishop for Chaplaincies in Katy, Texas.

Why must I have a personal interview?
The interview offers opportunity for an exchange of information and affords the candidate an opportunity to understand a chaplain's relationship with the denomination, his home diocese and the Anglican Province of North America.

What types of questions will be asked during the interview?
Discussion will include questions about the applicant's call, doctrinal positions, experience and concept of the chaplaincy.

Will my expenses be paid to this meeting?
No. Travel, housing and meal arrangements must be made by, and at the expense of, the candidate.

Does my spouse have to meet the Bishop with me?
Although it is preferred by the Bishop to meet the candidate's spouse, it is not mandatory if this will cause undue hardship.

Can I be endorsed before I am ordained with the Reformed Episcopal Church?
No. Endorsement can only take place after a candidate receives ordination through his diocese.

When I become a chaplain candidate or an endorsed chaplain, what is the policy in regard to tithing?
The approved and/or endorsed chaplain is expected to contribute a half- tithe to the Office of the Bishop for Chaplaincies on money earned from chaplaincy ministry. The other half-tithe may be used in conducting your ministry or in supporting other Christian endeavors. The tithing policy is set forth in the Anglican Church of North America Constitution and Canons.

What are the age criteria for appointment?
There are numerous variables in Armed Forces programs. The following table indicates the current age requirements for each branch of service without military experience. You must enter prior to corresponding birthday. Extensions may be given for prior Active Duty military service. If you are over age 34, please inquire about age limits prior to beginning your application process.

  Chaplain Candidate Reserve Active Duty
Army424646
Navy394042
Air Force354042


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