Chaplain Endorsement

Serving God and Others in the Federal Government

The Church of Christ is a fellowship of independent congregations and has no central ecclesiastical headquarters or organization to ordain or endorse ministers for any special capacity outside a local congregation. In order to provide an opportunity for qualified persons to serve in the military chaplaincy or act as “lay leaders” for congregations meeting in military facilities, the Armed Forces Chaplain Board recognizes the Church of Christ in Fairfax, Virginia as the endorsing organization.

This authority is recognized by the Federal Prison System and was grandfathered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, which now has its own Endorser recognition process.

The Endorsing Agent provides endorsements only for these Federal agencies. Endorsements for hospital systems, state prison systems, volunteer chaplain organizations such as state police should get endorsement letters from local congregations.

The endorsements of Fairfax Church of Christ are based on

  • Meeting the educational and experience qualifications of the Federal agency
  • Being supported by personal references from the applicant’s local church. We strive to make our endorsements consistent with beliefs and practices across a broad mainstream of the Church of Christ, recognizing there are diverse beliefs in a number of areas. Therefore, we rely on the applicant’s local congregation to affirm the person’s good standing in the Church of Christ.

Specific information regarding qualifications and application procedures are contained below.

Please contact the Endorsing Agent, Gary Payne, before proceeding with downloading and using these forms.

Chaplaincy Qualifications & Forms

  • Be a U.S. citizen, physically qualified, favorable National Agency Check
  • Maximum age at time of appointment:
    • NAVY (USN) / United States Air Force (USAF) – Active Duty: Commissioned prior to 42 years of age
    • USAF/ USN RESERVE: Commissioned prior to 40th USN allows prior service year-for-year rate up to age 44 (commissioned prior to 45th Birthday).
    • ARMY – Active Duty commissioned prior to 42. No waivers.
    • ARMY – US ARMY RESERVE (USAR) / ARMY NATIONAL GUARD (ARNG) must be commissioned prior to age 45 or may have 3 years prior service to less than age 47. Prior Service—Age waiver increases each year of prior service USAR prior to age 47 for each qualifying prior service year. Cannot exceed 10 years enlisted or 15 years AFS.
    • VETERANS ADMINISTRATION (VA) – Same as for civil service
    • BUREAU OF PRISONS (Federal Prison System) – Prior to age 36
    • CIVIL AIR PATROL (CAP) – No age limit
  • Baccalaureate Degree of not less than 120 hours from an accredited university.
  • Masters Degree in divinity or a graduate degree in theological studies, which includes at least 72-hour terminal degree in religion, theology or pastoral studies from an accredited institution.
  • Be a qualified “religious ministry professional” of a faith group.
  • A minimum of two years full time pulpit ministry in a local congregation following completion of the educational requirements.
  • Clinical Pastoral Education. Applicants must have completed a minimum of two CPE units for appointment to VA.
  • Possess an ecclesiastical endorsement from a faith group recognized by the DoD Armed Forces Chaplains Board.
The age limit is subject to the current needs of the Federal Agency and it is best that you contact Service Recruiters for the Armed Forces and Human Resource Personnel for the VA and the Federal BOP.  They will provide the most current information.

Chaplaincy Endorser

Gary Payne

Gary grew up in Lincolnton, North Carolina and entered the Army in 1977.  Since then, he has preached for two different churches over a total of twelve years.  He completed the Masters of Divinity from Harding University Graduate School of Religion (now, Harding School of Theology) in Memphis, Tennessee and the Doctor of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.  He deployed to combat zones four times during his thirty-six years career that culminated as an Army Chaplain (Lieutenant Colonel). 

He currently serves as the Chaplain Endorser for federal-level Chaplains representing the Church of Christ.  He also serves as a Shepherd at the North Broad Street Church of Christ in Albertville, Alabama.  Married for thirty-eight years, Ellen and he have three grown children and one granddaughter.

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Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

John 15:13