Frequently Asked Questions

Have Questions?


Why do chaplains serve in the Armed Forces and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, and what do they do?

The primary purpose of military and VA chaplains is to protect the Constitutional guarantee of “the free exercise of religion” for the men and women who serve in our Armed Forces. Every chaplain comes from a particular faith group and is responsible for meeting the religious needs of those who adhere to that faith. However, chaplains are also responsible for ensuring that members of other faith groups are equally well served, and that the rights of those who have no religious faith are protected. Finally, chaplains provide care to all military personnel, as well as their family members, and play a critical role in advising commanders on how best to address the moral, spiritual, and ethical issues that confront our people every day.

Military Chaplains: First, a chaplain is a person of faith who demonstrates care and concern for the welfare of others. Second, Presbyterian ministers must possess an M.Div. degree and be in good standing with their Presbyteries. Third,  physical fitness is mandatory. A chaplain must be able to keep up with 19 to 25 year olds, run from 1.5 miles to 4 miles on a regular basis, do sit ups, push ups, and maintain weight standards for that particular service. Fourth, personal and professional relationships must be above reproach. Finally, education and training must be a consistent and ongoing discipline. Chaplains are expected to constantly improve their knowledge and understanding both of the military and the faith communities from which they come.

VA Chaplains: Much the same applies. Presbyterian ministers seeking to serve the VA must possess an M.Div. degree and be in good standing with their Presbyteries. Personal conduct must be above reproach. The differences are as follows: At less 2 units of CPE are required, and there are no physical fitness standards within the VA. Within the VA, you do not have to move, but your chances of obtaining the positions you want may be increased by a willingness to go where the jobs are.

What is a Chaplain Candidate?

If you are in the process of starting or completing your Seminary education, you can potentially enter the Chaplain Candidate Program. Each service, Army, Navy and Air Force offers similar programs to allow individuals contemplating serves as a military chaplains the chance to learn about this through internship type program. Some States also offer a National Guard Chaplain Candidate Program.

Note: Approval and participation in the Chaplain Candidate Program is not a guarantee that you will be a Military Chaplain. Upon competition of Seminary, you must apply for an Ecclesiastical Endorsement, must be ordained by your Presbytery, and be accepted by the military service you wish to serve.

How do I become a Chaplain?

  • First, you must be an ordained minister, or be accepted to a Seminary for a Master of Divinity Degree and working with your Presbytery on becoming an ordained minister.
  • Second, you must complete the appropriate application and the approval/endorsement process with the Presbyterian Federal Chaplaincy.
  • Applicants for military service: you must work with a chaplain recruiter to complete the military side of the application process.
  • Applicants for the VA: you will find more information at this website.

Who should apply?

Anyone who believes God may be calling him or her to this work. The Presbyterian Federal Chaplaincy is here to help you through the process of discerning your call.

A quick note on the VA Chaplaincy. The VA chaplaincy is a hospital chaplaincy with high standards. Military experience is not required, but you must have at least 2 units of CPE. You may enhance your employment prospects with specialized training, volunteer work, or accepting a part time position. Typically, VA Chaplaincy positions (listed on close very quickly; we recommend that you start the endorsement process as soon as possible. Once you have an endorsement, you will be ready to apply when the job posts on For more information on VA process, click here.

Apply Now


1) If I am accepted in a Seminary and enrolled in a Master of Divinity program for the next school year, may I apply for the Chaplain Candidate Program?

Yes, you may begin the process of obtaining ecclesiastical approval. On the application, list the seminary you plan to attend. In section G, please explain your circumstances.

2) If I am not in a relationship with a presbytery, but attending a seminary, may I apply for the ecclesiastical approval?

No. As a Presbyterian from one of our four denominations, you must be in a relationship with a Presbytery in order to apply for ecclesiastical approval. If you have questions, please contact our office .

3) If I have an ecclesiastical approval to serve as a Chaplain Candidate, am I eligible to move into active or reserve chaplaincy upon my ordination?

No. Approval and endorsement are separate and distinct processes. The purpose of the approval process is to help you explore ministry in the military as a vocational option. Chaplain Candidates are commissioned officers, but they are not chaplains. Endorsement, on the other hand, is a necessary part of an application to serve as a chaplain in either the Armed Forces or the VA.  Without ecclesiastical endorsement, one cannot serve as a chaplain.

4) Are the Army Chaplain Candidate and National Guard Chaplain Candidate programs the same?

The programs are not the same and have different requirements.

5) Is it true that you are paid to be a chaplain candidate?

Chaplain Candidates are military officers and are paid accordingly for active training and duty days. As noted above, however, they are not chaplains and therefore are not entitled either to represent themselves as chaplains or to perform pastoral functions reserved for chaplains.

Seminary Students

Approved to Receive a Call (Not Ordained)

If you currently serve as an endorsed chaplain or chaplain candidate, this section is to help you.  We have listed here information that you need to navigate policies, and guidance.  Also listed here are resources and report forms that will help you and your ministry.


Currently serving chaplains, regardless of status, are required to attend a credentialing event at least once every three years, unless prevented by mission requirements. All currently serving chaplains will be supported in the maintenance of their professional credentials and ecclesiastical standing through attendance and participation in these mandatory events.

This summer we will hold the 2023 version of the Chaplain Training and Credentialing event in two locations –

West Coast – Calvin Crest Conferences outside Oakhurst, CA – June 26-30

East Coast – Montreat Conference Center in Montreat NC – August 7-11

Montreat Conference Center Information:

Montreat registration will open soon. Click here for registration

Montreat Conference Center, Chaplain Credentialing and Training Event 2023 MOI (Click here)

Calvin Crest Information: June 26 - 30, 2023

Calvin Crest registration is now open. Please see below for instructions for registration. Please note PFC authorized dates are Monday, 26 June through Friday, 30 June 2023.

Instructions for Registration: Click here: Calvin Crest Registration Online

    1. Create a login for yourself/family here:  Click here: Calvin Crest Register Online *Note: If you have come to Calvin Crest before only with PFC, you will need to create a new account. If you have come to a Calvin Crest hosted summer program before and have account info, you can use that to login. If you have any questions about whether you have an active account with us, feel free to call our office at 559-772-4040.
    2. Add each member of your family that will be coming with you as a "camper" (this includes spouses)
    3. Enroll each member of your family- this will be done one at a time. You will go through the whole process, including checkout and payment for one person, then do this same process for each member of your family. Beginning with yourself, click the "Enroll for 2023" button, then select the option "Presbyterian Federal Chaplains Family Camp: June 26-30, 2023" and your age, then scroll down to the bottom of the page and click "Save and Continue"
      1. For each person, you will complete the application questions. Just once per family, you will choose which lodging option you would like and if you'll be joining us on Sunday (5 nights) or Monday (4 nights). PFC's primary lodging is the Cedar Lodge. Note: we hope you'll join us for Calvin Crest's full Family Camp programming which begins on Sunday! Note that if you choose to join us on Sunday, the difference in cost between the 4 night and 5 night rates will not be covered by PFC since PFC's program begins on Monday.
      2. Next, complete the Medical Forms for the individual you are registering, then check out.
      3. Check Out: Please select "Deposit Only" for yourself and pay the $100 deposit to secure your families spot. For each other adult family member, you can select the "Mail Check" Option, which will allow you to finish their registration without paying additional deposit amounts.

Final payments will be due upon arrival at Calvin Crest. If you have any questions or need assistance throughout the process, don't hesitate to reach out to our office at 559-772-4040.

Calvin Crest Memorandum of Instruction (MOI), Chaplain Credentialing and Training Event 2023 (Click here)

Calvin Crest Additional Information: (Click Here To Download)

Post 2021 Training and Credentialing Resources

The 2021 Training and Credentialing Event is now complete. People were able to participate either in person or virtually via Zoom.

Videos Available - If you were not able to attend you may view the videos of the devotionals and training at our Group page on Facebook - Presbyterian Federal Chaplaincies.

Join our group - if you have not joined our Facebook group please do so. Search Presbyterian Federal Chaplaincies and you should be welcomed as a member. If not, ask to join and we will approve. We hope this group will be useful now and into the future.


1/27/21 Chaplains All Access January 2021 Meeting Slides Click here

April 30, 2020: With gratitude to the presenters listed below, the previously recorded presentation "MORAL RESILIENCE IN MEDICAL WORKERS DURING COVID-19" Webinar Training is offered via the following link: Access Password: E5@20J^?

Download PDF Webinar Outline and Resources Handout:

Webinar Overview: Moral injury is happening all around us as COVID-19 ravages lives all across the nation. Our medical teams are especially at risk. We are here to help, in real time, by providing information about what kinds of things put people at risk, how to maintain moral resilience in the crisis, and what can be done in the aftermath to help people process their experiences. Participants in this online discussion will receive information in a "tool kit" for coping in the midst of the pandemic and after.

Presented by

Dr. Rita Brock
Senior Vice President and Director of the Shay Moral Injury Center
at Volunteers of America

Dr. Cynda Hylton Rushton
Anne and George L. Bunting Professor of Clinical Ethics in
the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics and the
School of Nursing

Moderated by Rev. Dr. Al Boyce
Chaplain, Volunteers of America Northern New England

April 14, 2020: “Crisis Support in the Midst of a Pandemic” PRESENTED BY: South Carolina Law Enforcement Assistance Program

Please click on the link to begin training:




Note: Posting of these websites in no way constitutes an endorsement by the Presbyterian Federal Chaplaincy of their content or a guarantee of their usefulness.

 Link to Military Chaplains Association (MCA)



Dennis Hysom

Doug Slater


Contact Presbyterian Federal Chaplaincies

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