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Advocacy

The North Carolina Chaplains' Association Advocacy Committee is dedicated to advocating for professional standards in spiritual care.  NCCA promotes spiritual care through awareness, education and action.  Spiritual Care Week, held each October, is a time when we especially celebrate the chaplains and spiritual care counselors, educators and providers who make our profession great.

The leadership of the North Carolina Chaplains’ Association expresses profound reservations regarding changes to prison chaplain education requirements currently being proposed in House Bill 259 of the General Assembly.

 

If community-funded and volunteer chaplains in the NC Department of Corrections carry the same title, authority, and access to inmates as those employed by the Department, then their education and training should be commensurate. Decreasing education and training requirements for chaplains who serve vulnerable populations poses a significant risk to those in their care.

 

Chaplains by definition work in public institutions, with vulnerable populations who represent many different faiths or no faith at all. In order to meet these needs appropriately, professionally vetted, qualified chaplains are trained to meet care recipients where they are, with no religious agenda for them. Instead, chaplains build trust and rapport, listen reflectively, and provide a safe emotional space for individuals to work through spiritual and emotional challenges. Chaplains provide spiritual assessment, crisis intervention, bereavement care, and religious rituals that are appropriately tailored to each individual. These interventions require intensive training, ongoing education, and accountability.

 

Various accredited and recognized certifying agencies commonly require professional chaplains to meet stringent criteria in order to become board certified. These requirements typically include a 94-hour master of divinity degree or equivalent, official recognition from their faith community, 1600 hours of supervised clinical pastoral education, and a successful certification interview by their peers, demonstrating proficiency in 31 areas of competency. In addition, professional chaplains are required to complete 2000 clinical rotation hours to complete their educational experience to become fully board certified. They maintain their certification with 50 hours of continuing education annually. Board certification ensures public institutions who employ chaplains that those chaplains will honor the highest standard of the profession and be sensitive to all their care recipients.

 

Many untrained persons who present themselves to serve as chaplains are well-meaning and good-intentioned; however, without the proper training, their interventions may include giving advice, proselytizing, or otherwise inadvertently causing harm. NCCA advocates for all chaplains to achieve the highest possible levels of education and training in order to best serve the vulnerable populations in their care.

 

 The North Carolina Chaplains’ Association is a not-for-profit organization providing advocacy, support, continuing education, and fellowship for professional chaplains across the state. 

 

Stones of Meaning

Advocacy Testimony

"We serve as a resource for our North Carolina Chaplains in providing spring and fall
educational conferences, bi-monthly research education, and quarterly continuing education via video-
conferencing opportunities. We also serve to help in advocating for professional standards in Spiritual
Care. We know the decision to hire a chaplain in any location is important and we want to be an
intentional resource for chaplains and their employers."  Rebekah Ramsey, NC Chaplains Past President

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