Written by Rachel Hackenberg
To our Committees on Ministry, from the Rev. Stephen Boyd and Ms. Kathleen Sattler, respectively the UCC Ecclesiastical Endorser and the Endorsement Secretary as well as MESA team members:
Currently, MESA is noting an increased interest in chaplaincy and specialized ministries within the United Church of Christ.
Government chaplaincy positions in the military, VA hospital and Federal Prison systems require that chaplains have an Ecclesiastical Endorsement for government employment. Some institutions (hospitals, hospice facilities, university and college campuses, counseling centers, and other specialized settings) may require that chaplains and specialized ministers be endorsed by the UCC for certification by professional agencies.
Ordination and ecclesiastical endorsement are two separate procedures.
- Ordination is the rite by which the church recognizes and authorizes an individual, called by God and sufficiently prepared and equipped for ministry in, and on behalf of, the United Church of Christ.
- Ecclesiastical Endorsement is the verification that a person is in good ministerial standing with the UCC, has qualifying experience, understands the nature of specialized ministry, and is qualified to represent the United Church of Christ in diverse and pluralistic settings.
Ecclesiastical Endorsement for a government position is recommended by the Committee on Ministry, verified and granted by the Ecclesiastical Endorser at the denominational offices of the UCC. Endorsement for professional agencies is determined by the Committee on Ministry, processed and validated by the Endorsement Office at the national offices.
Endorsement is not transferrable between denominations. A minister entering the UCC from another denomination must secure endorsement through the UCC once awarded Privilege of Call and attaining full ordained ministerial standing in the UCC.
When an individual presents themselves for ecclesiastical endorsement, MESA recommends that Committees on Ministry immediately contact the Rev. Stephen Boyd, the Ecclesiastical Endorser (for government endorsements) or Ms. Kathleen Sattler, the Endorsement Secretary (for professional agency endorsements). It is our intention to assist and offer guidance in order to reduce confusion, duplication of effort and ensure that the proper procedure is followed.
Proof of ordination is a prerequisite for both government and professional endorsements. Once ordained ministerial standing has been established, Committees on Ministry must refer to Section 9 of the Manual on Ministry outlining procedures for ecclesiastical endorsement and consult with the Endorsement Office for additional guidelines.
A Committee may agree to use selected ordination documentation for endorsement, however full ordained standing in the United Church of Christ must be established before an individual will be considered for endorsement. Ordination and Endorsement may be processed simultaneously if a Committee has determined that the call to chaplaincy or specialized ministry is ordainable (with endorsement procedures being completed following ordination); due to additional requirements, however, military chaplaincy is not considered an ordainable call in the United Church of Christ.
Rev. Stephen S. Boyd, UCC Endorser
MESA Minister for Chaplains & Specialized Ministers
Ms. Kathleen Sattler, Endorsement Secretary