Serving as a military or VA Chaplain is a rewarding and diverse ministry. Chaplains are qualified religious leaders and dedicated to providing quality religious support. They conduct ministry worldwide, accompanying our nation’s service members and their families as they carry out their units’ missions in both peacetime and during conflict.

The ministry of a chaplain can be summarized in three areas: Chaplains nurture the living by providing quality chapel programs, Bible studies, counseling and teaching life skills. Chaplains care for the wounded through pastoral care, counseling and by their very presence. Chaplains honor the fallen through meaningful religious services and grief counseling.

It takes a special calling to serve as a military or VA Chaplain. Regardless of the branch of service, active duty, reserves or National Guard, you will find meaningful service as a representative of the Lord and the Charis Fellowship.

Become a Chaplain

Interested pastors who sense a call to this unique and challenging ministry must receive endorsement from the Charis Fellowship, as required by the Department of Defense or the Department of Veterans Affairs, to include both an undergraduate degree and a Master of Divinity (minimum 72 hours) from a seminary recognized by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). They must also meet the physical, moral, educational and legal requirements for military service. After they meet the requirements of the endorsing agent and the qualifications set forth by the branch of service to which they have applied, they may be commissioned as an officer and chaplain in that branch.

Persons interested in active duty military chaplaincy must be able to accession on active duty by their 42nd birthday. Persons with prior military experience and an honorable discharge may have other options. Check with each branch’s Chaplain Recruiter.

Become a Chaplain Candidate

The Chaplain Candidate programs are for those who are interested in serving as a Chaplain but have not yet completed their graduate education or received local church ordination. Chaplain Candidates must have completed their undergraduate studies, be accepted or enrolled in a Master of Divinity program at an accredited seminary or are not ordained at the time of commissioning. Generally those interested in becoming Chaplain Candidates must apply and be accepted before their 36th birthday. Like all military officers, they must meet the physical, moral, educational and legal requirements for military service. Chaplain Candidates can receive pay and benefits for participation in military training opportunities. In some cases, tuition assistance is available. Interested persons must check with the Chaplain Recruiter for the branch in which they desire to serve.

Read more about the US Army’s Chaplain Candidacy Program


Qualifications required by the Charis Fellowship (Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches):

  • Member of a church in the Charis Fellowship
  • Ordained as an overseer/pastor in a local church in the Charis Fellowship
  • Be a member in good standing in the Association of Grace Brethren Ministers

Application Process

Process of application for endorsement

  • Complete the Application Packet for Endorsement (Chaplains) or Approval (Chaplain Candidates)
  • Personal Interview with the Endorsing Agent (to include spouse if married)
  • Be recommended by the Endorsing Agent to the Chaplaincy Committee

For more information contact the Endorsing Agent, Mark Penfold at

The Young/Schumacher Chaplain Candidate Scholarship Program

Sponsored by the Eagle Commission and Grace Brethren Investment Foundation, Inc.

The Young/Schumacher Chaplain Candidate Scholarship Program honors the military service of two men from our fellowship. Dr. Jerry Young, DMin., served for many years as the Senior Pastor of the Lititz, PA, Grace Brethren Church while also serving as a Chaplain in the Army Reserve. He retired at the rank of colonel. Dr. John Schumacher served on active duty for over 30 years with two combat tours in Vietnam. After retirement from active duty at the rank of colonel, he served as the Endorsing Agent for 22 years.

The Young/Schumacher Scholarship offers financial assistance to qualified students who are attending graduate schools of theology and are preparing for an active-duty or reserve career ministry as a chaplain in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Interested persons must already have received a commission as a Chaplain Candidate in either the Army, Air Force or Navy. Applicants affirm that their plans are to pursue a ministry in the military Chaplaincy, active or reserve, or in the VA Chaplaincy.

For every year of active-duty service or as a VA Chaplain, 25% of the cumulative funds awarded will be forgiven. For Reservists, 12.5% is forgiven annually for every year on drilling reserve duty. Recipients agree to repay any funds awarded should those plans change prior to commissioning as a chaplain or if they leave active or reserve duty before their commitment is completed.

For information and an application form, please contact Endorsing Agent, Mark Penfold at

Military Requirements

Check out the military requirements for chaplains who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces: