MPV offers ecclesiastical endorsement to hospital and hospice chaplains and would-be chaplains seeking ecclesiastical endorsement. Currently, we are not able to offer endorsement to military or federal correctional chaplains. However, we welcome a dialogue and conversation with those individuals who share our values and seek ecclesiastical endorsement within specialized ministry settings outside of healthcare. To start the process contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NB: Individuals interested in applying for ecclesiastical endorsement must be members of MPV and submit a $100 endorsement fee. You may join MPV, and pay your fee, here.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a chaplain?
A chaplain is a professional who represents a specific faith tradition operating often within a specialized ministry setting, which is usually a secular environment, with the intention to provide spiritual and emotional support to individuals supported by the setting.
What is an Ecclesiastical Endorsement?
An Ecclesiastical Endorsement is a legal document that states that the endorsed chaplain is spiritually, educationally, and professionally qualified to represent Muslims for Progressive Values in a specialized setting typically outside of the context of a local congregation. The endorsed needs to be able to minister to a diverse group of people, including people of other religions, no religions, different genders, sexual orientations, cultures, etc. An endorsement is a document that allows an individual "to be a chaplain."
What is a specialized ministry setting?
A specialized ministry setting is any location that employs chaplains to provide spiritual care either internally (i.e., fellow employees or staff members, patients and their families, etc.) or externally (staff, patients, families, etc. not directly connected to the setting). Some specialized ministry settings require an ecclesiastical endorsement by the chaplain's faith community to ensure the chaplain is qualified, and willing to function collegially in a spiritual and culturally pluralistic setting without prejudice, understanding that the ministry setting is not the place to evangelize.
Each applicant for Ecclesiastical Endorsement shall submit:
- Spiritual Autobiography.
- Transcripts (College and Graduate School or equivalent).
- Documentation of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE).
- Letters of Recommendation.
- Authorization form to conduct a criminal background check.
Once the initial packet is received and reviewed by MPV staff the application is either rejected or conditionally approved pending an interview with the MPV endorsing agent before ecclesiastical endorsement is given.
Each applicant shall submit an essay that addresses the following:
- A thorough but succinct spiritual autobiography paying attention to one's journey either within Islam or towards Islam (in the case of converts).
- Describe your vocational aspiration to be a chaplain. What compels you to serve in this capacity?
- Describe how you handle conflict and provide an example.
- Describe your personality and include your known strengths and areas for growth. How did you come to know this about yourself?
- Throughout your essay attempt to illustrate your commitment to MPV's 10 Principles.
Include all college and graduate school transcripts as well as documentation of any additional education applicable to one's application.
Documentation of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE)
Include all documentation of units of CPE from an accepted source such as ACPE or CPSP. In the case of an equivalent experience contact the MPV endorser for instructions on how to proceed.
Letters of Recommendation
All applicants for endorsement shall submit three letters of recommendation. All letters of recommendation should attest to either one's potential or competency as a chaplain able to function within diverse ministry settings. It is helpful if the letter also includes a testimony of the applicant's character and values. Each applicant shall submit three letters of recommendation from a professional colleague (nurse, social worker, physician, chaplain, etc.), professor/instructor, or local congregational leaders (imam, congregational board member, etc.).
Authorization form to conduct criminal background check
Each applicant shall agree to allow MPV to conduct a criminal background check and any criminal history shall be disclosed at the time of application.
What does it mean to be a Chaplain?
By David Oliver Kling, M.Div
A chaplain is a professional who represents a specific faith tradition operating often within a secular environment with the intention to provide spiritual and emotional support to individuals within the environment's context (i.e., healthcare setting, correctional institute, the military, etc..).
Good advice for anyone interested in chaplaincy would be to suspend your sectarianism. Institutional settings that have chaplains need their chaplains dedicated to interfaith ministry. Chaplains need to be of service to those within their institutional setting. Suspending your sectarianism doesn't mean sacrificing who you are as a person of faith. It means being open to diversity and being able to embrace that diversity to be of service to others where you find them. This means being strong in your own religious conviction. Your identity as a Chaplain should flow from your theology and that theology should be expansive enough to embrace the needs of others both within and outside of your tradition. Suspending your sectarianism means your agenda is one of service and compassion; and, the person with whom the Chaplain serves sets the agenda.
Does being a Chaplain mean I'll have to do things I don't want to do? If you have no tolerance for the spiritual beliefs of others then you might be out of your comfort zone as a Chaplain; however, being a Chaplain doesn't mean being someone you are not. If someone asks you for something you do not feel comfortable doing, you should decline in such a way that protects their dignity as well as your own. For example, if you're a hospital Chaplain and a Christian patient asks for communion you don't have to hold Mass in their room, but you could politely refer the request to another Chaplain or someone in the community. It is how you handle the request that is important. A Chaplain should be able to recognize what is going on inside them emotionally and spiritually and act in a professional manner.
Chaplaincy brings up all of our personal issues and creates its own anxieties. As a Chaplain, you will encounter a lot of people in diverse situations and in providing care to them a lot of your own personal issues will rise to the surface. A Chaplain needs to be able to regulate their own anxiety and provide a non-anxious presence to others. Chaplaincy is less about rational knowledge and more about emotional health. It's about entering into someone else's spiritual distress without getting pulled into it and allowing it to take over. It's about being able to function in multiple settings as a leader, being the person who is capable of journeying with someone else and helping them in their life journey.
Do Chaplains reject academic insight and knowledge? Chaplaincy is about the balance between the intellect and the heart. It is not simply an intellectual exercise that one can do simply from reading a book or taking a class. Chaplains will commonly find themselves surrounded by complex emotional states in dealing with people in intense grief, anger, denial, etc. A Chaplain needs to be able to handle complex emotional states and this requires the Chaplain to have a degree of emotional intelligence while also possessing a thorough knowledge of their own spiritual tradition. The Chaplain will draw from their own emotional experiences to be of service to others and this requires the Chaplain to continually wrestle with their own emotions, so they can understand themselves and identify their own emotional states to help identify the emotional states of others. A Chaplain should be able to go deep into the emotional and spiritual pain of another because they have gone deeply into their own emotional and spiritual pain. It is difficult attaining this degree of self-awareness strictly through rational study and discourse.
A Chaplain is someone who reflects theologically and who uses their theological reflection to inform and empower their care for others. This is what sets Chaplains apart from other caring professions. A Chaplain is someone who can assess the spiritual pain of another. Being able to perform an assessment requires the ability to engage in theological reflection. A Chaplain is self-aware and can deeply reflect upon their own pain to journey within the distress of others.
How does a Chaplain do an assessment? The emotional and spiritual state of a person can get caught up in spiritual pain that takes one or more different forms. Spiritual pain often surrounds issues of meaning and purpose, hope and hopelessness, forgiveness, and intimacy. A Chaplain will have sufficiently reflected on these areas within their own life to be a compassionate caregiver to another. Theological reflection is the means in which a Chaplain navigates through the pain of another, and their own pain, and helps to give this pain a context to be better understood.
A Chaplain needs to be both a generalist and a specialist. A Chaplain will often be called upon to do "minister things." An institutional Chaplain could be asked to lead an interfaith worship service, or preach at a memorial, lead others in prayer, or facilitate a support group. A Chaplain needs to have some knowledge of interfaith community liturgy, preaching, and education to function confidently in an institutional setting regardless of their religious tradition. Therefore, Chaplains are trained in seminaries and not in schools of psychology or social work; because a Chaplain needs to be a generalist when it comes to "ministry skills." A Chaplain, regardless of their faith background, will be asked by those with whom they serve to perform basic "minister stuff," and the professional Chaplain will be able to comply with these requests.
Do Muslim Chaplains need to embrace concepts foreign to the Islamic community? Every profession has its own jargon and culture and Chaplaincy is no exception. Being an institutional Chaplain often means functioning in a multifaith environment. The terms that are commonly used within Chaplaincy reflect the general norms of Pastoral Care Departments within the various settings that utilize Chaplains; therefore, it is up to the individual Chaplain to translate these norms into their own contextual usage. For example, when you hear the word "preaching" or "preacher" you might translate that into "khutbah" and "khatib." Likewise, when you hear the term "pastoral care" you might prefer to think of the term "spiritual care" instead. To function professionally in a multifaith setting, the Chaplain needs to be flexible and willing and able to translate practices into their own theological and spiritual context.
A Chaplain needs to be a mirror. A Chaplain is a specialist in pastoral and spiritual care. When someone is undergoing intense emotions, it is often necessary for them to process their emotions to achieve emotional balance and harmony. A Chaplain is not afraid of grief or emotional distress and will enter another's emotional pain and help them through reflective listening. A Chaplain will effectively be a mirror by reflecting back to a person how they are feeling and what is going on within them emotionally and spiritually. A Chaplain will mirror back to a person their emotional state in a way that helps them process their feelings. Without effective emotional processing people get "stuck," and Chaplains help people from getting caught in emotional loops that often feel hopeless. When the time is right the Chaplain will help them go deeper into their pain to help them find a way out.
David Oliver Kling is a graduate of Wright State University holding a B.A. degree in Religious Studies and a B.A. degree in Philosophy. He has a Master of Divinity from Methodist Theological School in Ohio with a specialization in Black Church and African Diaspora Studies. While in college he worked as Director of Religious Education at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Yellow Springs and while in seminary he served the Delaware Unitarian Universalist Fellowship as consulting minister. After seminary, he served as a chaplain resident at St. Mary's Medical Center in Huntington, West Virginia. He is a Muslim convert and has a religious background that includes Christianity, Unitarian Universalism, and Ecology-centered spirituality. He currently works as a hospice chaplain in Northeast Ohio. His academic interests include race and class issues, comparative theology, spiritual care and practical theology.