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Susan Stack
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Presbyterian Association of Specialized Pastoral MinistriesThe Presbyterian Association of Specialized Pastoral Ministries welcomes those involved in institutional chaplaincies, pastoral counseling and other specialized ministries. Members represent the PC(USA) at national professional organizations and work to ensure that the church recognizes their ministries.

Join PHEWA and take part in this ministry.

Ecclesiastical Endorsement of Ministers Serving in Specialized Pastoral Ministries

  • Are you a candidate seeking an “endorsement” for chaplaincy or pastoral counseling that the professional organizations require and don’t know where to go for that?
  • Are you a presbytery staff person or do you serve on your presbytery’s COM or CPM and wonder what is expected when you are asked for an “endorsement?”

This information will assist the Committees on Ministry and Preparation in working with persons seeking ecclesiastical endorsement. Ecclesiastical endorsement is an official declaration by the presbytery of membership/care that a person seeking certification as a chaplain or pastoral counselor has the gifts of ministry for this special calling. It is not a statement of competency. Endorsement is the responsibility of the religious body, while certification is the work of the professional organization. The following information is intended as a resource. Additional information is available from the professional organizations or from certified chaplains and pastoral counselors serving in each presbytery.


History of PASPM

This personal account of PASPM was adapted from material found in the PHEWA archives. The original was written by John Rea Thomas in 1990. John was one of the founders of PHEWA. Since 1981, he has served as a part-time Assistant Pastor at Christ Presbyterian Church, Madison, Wis. He continues his chaplaincy activities through the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, the Association of Mental Health Clergy (now Association of Professional Chaplains) and the College of Chaplains. He is the author of A ‘Snap-shot’ History of the ACPE, 1975-2000, A Study in God’s Grace: A Sesquicentennial History of Christ Presbyterian Church, Madison, Wisconsin, and Chaplaincies in Wisconsin Institutions. This account contains names of two persons that PHEWA members hold in the highest regard: John Park Lee and Rodney T. Martin. Awards bearing these names are given to deserving persons at the Biennial Social Justice Conference.

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  • Jackie, re: the below comments, I'd sure like you to continue to go for it. Do you have CPE experience/training? by Rev. Laura Hollister on 05/14/2013 at 8:50 a.m.

  • I tried for several years to be endorsed as a police chaplain by my presbytery. I was never successful. I served for ten years in the most rewarding and fulfilling ministry i have ever experienced. You don't need the PCUSA's endorsement to do meaningful ministry, but it sure would be nice. by (The Rev) Jackie Leonard on 04/26/2013 at 11:32 a.m.

  • Absolutely, professional chaplaincy to a hospital or hospice has been long regarded a validated ministry in the PCUSA, and should be endorsed for by her presbytery's COM if she has the proper acedemic preparation (M.Div.) and has had some Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). "Certification" is within the sphere of a professional organization such as the Association of Professional Chaplains (, and your colleague can apply for certification following at least one year in a chaplaincy position. I would refer you to the document prepared by PASPM called Ecclesiastical Endorsement of Ministers Serving in Specialized Pastoral Ministries. Which can be found on the PCUSA website under PHEWA/PASPM. If you or your friend need any further guidance in this matter feel free to email me or call me at 812-353-9345. Blessings! by John VanderZee, Chaplain, Bloomigton Hospital on 10/14/2011 at 4:52 p.m.

  • I have a church member who is a candidate certified to receive a call. She has accepted a chaplaincy position with Hospice of Wake County and seeks ordination. Is there precedent concerning ordination into Hospice Chaplaincy? Joseph Ward, Pastor West Raleigh Presbyterian Church by Joseph Ward on 10/08/2011 at 7:06 p.m.