Chaplaincy Counts in The Episcopal Church

Updated: Mar 26

Chaplaincy counts in The Episcopal Church so we are trying to count the chaplains of The Episcopal Church. If you are an Episcopalian in a chaplaincy ministry then your voice counts. Let us hear from you - take this very brief survey.



As of March 26, 2022,

we have counted

509

Episcopal chaplains.

The Revs. Megan Sanders and David Fleenor at the Port of Newark. (c) 2007 DavidFleenor.org


Who counts?


All chaplains count! However, we are only trying to count what we sometimes refer to as "non-federal" chaplains. The Episcopal Bishop of the Armed Forces and Federal Ministries, the Rt. Rev. Carl Wright, oversees all the federal chaplains - military, Veterans Affairs (VA), and Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP) - so they are already accounted for within The Episcopal Church.


Why are we counting Episcopal chaplains?


There is an adage in healthcare: "What gets measured is what matters." The ministries of Episcopal chaplains matter: Chaplaincy counts in The Episcopal Church so we are trying to count the chaplains of The Episcopal Church.


The mission of The Episcopal Church, in part, is to "Embody the loving, liberating, life-giving way of Jesus with each other." This is something all Episcopal chaplains do no matter what context they work in, and whether they make it explicit or not. Because not all Episcopal chaplains are ordained, certified, or endorsed, it is difficult to know how many of us are out in the world embodying Christ's loving, liberating, life-giving way. Complicating this matter further is the fact that Episcopal polity focuses on the oversight of Episcopalians by bishops in specific geographical areas. There are approximately 100 dioceses in The Episcopal Church, which means there are also approximately 100 diocesan bishops. Each one has ecclesiastical oversight of the lay and ordained ministries taking place in their geographical area, including chaplaincies.


So what does that mean? Unlike the federal chaplains mentioned above who are overseen by a single bishop, non-federal chaplains are overseen by 100 different bishops. So it is hard to determine how many of us there are in the entire Episcopal Church. We are trying to count all non-federal chaplains so we can let Episcopal Church leaders know this good news: there are a lot of chaplains out in the world working to fulfill the Church's mission.


By letting our Church leaders know how many of us there are we hope to encourage them with the message that chaplains are quietly and sometimes invisibly fulfilling the Church's mission. It is easy to not see the ministries of chaplains. By highlighting these ministries we have the opportunity to invite other Episcopalians to consider incarnate God's love in the world through institutional ministries like ours.


How are we counting?

Since not all Episcopal chaplains are ordained, certified, or endorsed, we've had to pull from multiple sources to count Episcopal chaplains.


I've added all of this information to a spreadsheet and have eliminated duplicates. As I receive new information, I update the spreadsheet.


Who is involved in this project?


  • The Rev. Margaret Rose, Deputy for Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations, Ecclesiastical Endorser of The Episcopal Church

  • The Rev. Canon C.K. Robertson, Canon to the Presiding Bishop for Ministry Beyond The Episcopal Church

  • The Rev. Donna Mote, Former Chaplain at the Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport

  • The Rev. Marshall Scott, Retired Healthcare Chaplain

  • The Rev. David Fleenor, Chaplaincy Consultant for Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations

Margaret, Chuck, Donna, and I began a discussion in 2020 about how we might highlight the important roles that chaplains play in the Episcopal Church, especially during the pandemic. Out of those conversations, we identified three areas that we would like to know more about:

  1. How many "non-federal" chaplains are active in The Episcopal Church? An answer to this question will enable us to tell Church leaders how many chaplains are involved in"ministry beyond the walls of the church" and highlight their invaluable roles.

  2. What is the history of the ecclesiastical endorsement process of The Episcopal Church? This is where Marshall got involved. He is a longtime healthcare chaplain, so he has a lot of institutional knowledge. Together he, Margaret, and I are researching and writing this brief history. Answering this question will give us greater context for how we got where we are today and where we may want to go in the future.

  3. What do bishops of The Episcopal Church think about the ecclesiastical endorsement process today and want from it? I plan to interview a number of bishops to better understand their attitudes, concerns, knowledge, expectations, and hopes for the ecclesiastical endorsement process. Having their input will inform the recommendations I make to Church leaders about how to optimize the endorsement process in ways that better serve both the Church and its chaplains.

Who funded this project?


We received a grant from the United Thank Offering to support this project.


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