The Federal Chaplaincy Ministries of the ELCA seeks out, supports, nurtures and sends exemplary pastors and seminary students to serve as federal chaplains or chaplain candidates for the U.S. military, Veterans Affairs hospitals and federal correctional institutions.
Although the settings may be very different, federal chaplains have many of the same responsibilities as any other ELCA pastor. They preach the gospel, lead worship, administer the sacraments, perform weddings, counsel, teach and bury the dead. Yet because of the unique settings, chaplains carry out their ministry immersed in the “Monday through Saturday” world of military members, patients, families and staff at Veterans Affairs medical centers, and among the staff and inmates of federal prisons.
Given several decades of war, the faces of the military and veterans have changed, and chaplaincy is a ministry that works with more young adults than ever before. In federal prisons, chaplains work with very diverse and restricted people who hunger for understanding, healing, connections with family and reconciliation. Serving in medical centers places chaplains in the lives of military members — and their families — who are working to recover from physical and emotional trauma, injury and illness. Pastoral compassion, ethical discernment and personal resilience help practicing pastors thrive in chaplaincy. This is a church that stands ready with support and resources for the challenging work of its chaplains, and is eager to work with people who feel they may be called to put their gifts and faith to work in a federal chaplaincy.
Above image courtesy of ELCA Chaplaincy Ministry.