The PRCC was organized to assist in carrying out chaplain ministries to members of the Armed Forces, Veteran Affairs, state/federal prisons, hospitals, and other institutions that require a chaplain to obtain an ecclesiastical endorsement.
Endorsing Agency for:
The Associate Reformed Presbyterian Chuch (ARPC)
The Korean American Presbyterian Church (KAPC)
The Korean Presbyterian Church in America – Kosin (KPCA)
The Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC)
The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA)
The Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA)
United Reformed Churches in North America (URCNA)
The Chaplaincy.. A Mission Field: According to the Department of Defense there are presently approximately 1,500,000 service members on active duty, Reserve, and National Guard Armed Services. In many cases, these men and women and their families are away from home and separated from their families. Many desperately need spiritual guidance, discipleship and support from a chaplain who is able to communicate the love of God and claims of the Gospel. Veteran Affairs, hospital, and prison chaplains provide equally important spiritual guidance, discipleship and support in their places of service.
It was the statesman, General George Marshall, Chief of Staff of the US Army (1935-45) and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953, who said that the spiritual life of the soldier was far more important than his physical fitness and equipment. He believed “that unless the soldier’s soul sustains him, he cannot be relied upon in battle.”
According to the Bureau of Prisons, there are 94 federal prisons in the USA with an inmate population of approximately 150,000. Nearly 2.2 million people work in the criminal justice system, including one million police officers, 717,000 prison and jail guards and 455,000 people in the courts. This population within itself represents a tremendous harvest field. When we consider the related family/friends network, this arena of ministry becomes much too large to be ignored.
The health care industry for military veterans and civilians represents another fertile territory for ministry. There are approximately 6,300 hospitals, 17,250 retirement, 3,100 hospice networks and a large number of extended care/assisted care facilities across America.
Whether in prisons, hospitals, or in the military, men and women and their families, are in need of ministry. It is in these arenas that chaplains, represented by the PRCC, call men and women to faith in Jesus Christ and provide for spiritual growth, and encouragement.
The Core Values and Beliefs of the PRCC, doctrinal teachings of the denominations represented by the PRCC, and obedience to the Great Commission of our Lord combine to provide the motivation to commission and send Teaching Elders to minister to personnel and family members within our government institutions e.g. Military, Veteran Affairs, Law Enforcement Agencies, Hospitals, and State/Federal Prisons. Chaplaincy ministry provides our churches with the opportunity to effectively take the Gospel into a part of the marketplace (Acts 17:17) that would otherwise be inaccessible.
The Primary Mission of the PRCC. The Presbyterian and Reformed Commission on Chaplains and Military Personnel is a ministry of member denominations dedicated to obeying Christ’s Great Commission by providing men to serve as chaplains in military and civilian organizations. The Commission endorses and ecclesiastically supports ordained, qualified chaplains; approves chaplain candidates; and helps presbyteries and congregations in biblical ministry to military personnel and their families.
The Challenge of chaplains serving in our government institutions is to pastor airmen, sailors, soldiers, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, Civil Air Patrol, hospital patients and staff, and prisoners. Chaplains have the given opportunity to nurture men and women of diverse backgrounds in their faith within a pluralistic environment. Endorsed chaplains have complete freedom to preach and communicate the Gospel as expected by the denomination providing the endorsement. Chaplains have unlimited opportunities to communicate the Gospel to untold numbers of people.
Before an applicant can be considered for a government institution chaplaincy position, the minister must obtain an ecclesiastical endorsement from his denomination. Obtaining an ecclesiastical endorsement involves the following steps.
The first step is to contact the Executive Director of the PRCC in order to obtain an application form. The application will provide the PRCC with several references who must be contacted. The Executive Director of the PRCC or his designee will interview the applicant. If each of these steps is successfully accomplished, the applicant will be instructed to obtain permission from his presbytery to enter into the particular type of chaplaincy ministry for which endorsement is being sought. Assuming all things are in order, the ecclesiastical endorsement will be written and sent to the proper personnel agency. The agency to which the applicant is applying will then begin the process of evaluating the application. The Executive and Associate Directors of the PRCC will assist the applicant in getting through the process. To obtain an ecclesiastical endorsement from the PRCC an application fee is required.
Chaplain Sponsorship Program: The Chaplain Sponsorship Program enlists congregations and individuals to participate and partner in chaplain ministry by intercessory prayer. Sponsored chaplains provide a quarterly update with specific prayer needs. Congregational sponsors are requested, but not required, to include Chaplain Ministry in their annual budget with a gift of $300.
Financial Requirements for the Operation of Chaplain Ministry: The annual budget for the operation of the PRCC is $350,000. The categories for the budget are: travel, salaries, printing, telephone, office expense/administration, and training of newly accessioned chaplains. Since the institution provides the salary of chaplains they serve, the finances are only used to support the operation of Chaplain Ministries. In order to financially support this ministry congregations are requested to include Chaplain Ministries in their annual budget.
Illustrations of Chaplain Ministry:
The Prison Chaplaincy Prison chaplains work at the extremities of human existence. “The Big House” lies at the end of the street. Prison chaplaincy is ministering to souls vacillating between hope and despair. It is a ministry existing in a spiritual wasteland where being a “survivor” is not a game, but a constant, haunting reality.
If there was ever a place where the promises of God’s grace and unconditional love are needed, it is here. For the grieving soul who I will tell of his mother’s sudden death; for the struggling soul who is seeking freedom from a life filled with addiction, rage and self-destruction. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do…”
I have been privileged to witness the awakening of souls who have lived all their lives in a spiritual stupor. What a joy there is when the gifts of forgiveness, acceptance and love bring a genuine change in one of these children of God! To see a deep hunger and thirst for right living and thinking as these men become disciples of Christ. These are the blessings that encourage us to continue this ministry, that keep us going in the midst of daily challenges within the austere and dehumanizing environment of prison life. Pray for us! – The Rev. Mr. Strother Gross, Ross Correctional Institution, Ohio
The Hospital Chaplaincy I am one of four full-time VA Chaplains who are responsible for pastoral care coverage of this inpatient Veteran Hospital. Along with acute care, the hospital has medical, mental health, spinal cord, and long-term nursing wards as well as palliative care. I am the lead chaplain on the nursing home and hematology wards. I visit all the other wards when my fellow chaplains are off duty. In addition, I conduct the Protestant worship service every other week. I also conduct memorial services when needed for veterans and their families in our VA chapel.
It never ceases to amaze me how God works through our Chaplain ministries in the VA Hospital. I see His grace working in and through me as I am present with families who are anxiously awaiting the news of their loved ones in the ICU, or when I am praying with a patient going into major surgery; or when present with those who have just lost their loved one. I feel God’s Spirit very present in our worship service and feel a vital and vibrant fellowship with patients and their families. I had the opportunity to revamp our whole service when I came on board as Protestant Chaplain in Milwaukee. The patients, families, and staff have time and again expressed their thanks for my pulpit ministry. We are able to observe communion every Sunday, for which I give thanks. I have grown quite close to those who attend our services, much like the feeling of a pastor for his flock in the church.
– Chaplain Ron Morrell, VA Medical Hospital, Milwaukee, WI
For Additional Information: To help you contact the following PRCC personnel:
PRCC Administrative Asst.: Gary Hitzfeld
Mission to North America
1700 North Brown Road, Suite 101
Lawrenceville, GA 30043-8143
678-825-1200 Fax: 678-825-1201
Coorinator: Jim Carter
5605 Lake Russell Road
Mullins, SC 29574
Associate Coordinator: Mack Griffith
307 South Tee Drive
Fairhope, AL 36532
Associate Coordinator: Michael Stewart
You may write our administrative offices at:
Mission to North America – Chaplain Ministries
1700 North Brown Road, Suite 101
Lawrenceville, GA 30043-8143
678-825-1200 Fax: 678-825-1201