When the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) began to endorse chaplains in July of 2007, it had one member of the clergy doing this specialized work.
Today, there are more than 100 Anglican Church in North America chaplains, officially endorsed either through the CANA for the Anglican Church in North America, or through the Reformed Episcopal Church. In recognition of the rapid growth of this ministry, the Anglican Church in North America’s annual council appointed the Rt. Rev. Derek Jones as the suffragan bishop for chaplaincy during its June meeting. The Convocation’s chaplaincy office, under the leadership of Bishop Jones, is formulating a plan with the Reformed Episcopal Church’s Bishop Royal Grote for a church-wide endorsing office for chaplaincies.
Anglican Church chaplains hold posts in the armed services, in hospitals, with police, fire and other emergency responders and in a number of other settings, said Bishop Jones. “Chaplaincy is its own distinct call with its own distinct set of ministry obligations and opportunities,” he continued.
Many chaplains serve in professional settings, such as with a military unit or at a hospital.
Army Chaplain (Captain) Rich West, who is with the 31st Engineer Battalion, 1st Engineer Brigade at Fort Leonard Wood, MI, first experienced a call to military chaplaincy while serving as a Marine. Initially, Chaplain West resisted. “But after September 11, I was really praying about where I was at the time, and my heart was really with the soldiers,” he said. According to West, military chaplaincy involves a good deal of one-to-one counseling with soldiers, leading worship, and what the military calls a “ministry of presence.” “When we are out with the soldiers, we end up earning the credibility that gives us permission to minister to them,” explained Chaplain West.
Other chaplains have non-traditional ministries. Tim Trombitas works as an actor at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. In between shows, he has developed a chaplaincy ministry to his co-workers. “When you make yourself real to them, they want to become real to you. Every heart is a broken heart,” said Trombitas.
According to Bishop Jones, it is hard to keep up with interest in Anglican chaplaincy, particularly among ministers coming from other traditions. By his count, about half of the Anglican Church’s chaplains have come from other Christian groups. Bishop Jones believes this trend is driven by the “unique convergence in the chaplain of the three historical streams of worship, sacramental and liturgical, evangelical, and charismatic.” Anglicanism brings these streams together into a whole.
Beyond handling endorsements necessary to work in military or hospital settings, the chaplaincy office is also providing fellowship and continuing education to chaplains. When chaplains meet together this July, said Bishop Jones, there will be sessions on everything from critical incident stress management to the pastoral challenge of migratory congregant.
For more information about chaplaincy in the Anglican Church in North America, visit