Adventist Chaplains Carry Good News

June 01, 2012 | Darold Bigger

We're used to seeing our pastors on Sabbaths and at prayer meetings, funerals, camp meetings and other spiritual events. We even expect to see Adventist pastors in hospitals and on the campuses of our denominational schools, and we call them "chaplains." But there are hundreds of Adventist ministers whom we seldom see on the platform of Adventist churches or in the halls or walkways of Adventist institutions. They too are chaplains but minister in places where our church has little or no influence.

Employed by state or federal governments, businesses, corporations and industries, they are chaplains for inmates and staff at correctional facilities, for business employees and their families, for military personnel and their dependents during peace and war, for government officials and staff, for hospice agencies, and for patients and providers at other-than-Adventist medical facilities. Some work quietly with little public notice. Others are often in the public eye, like Barry Black, United States Senate chaplain.

In addition to employed chaplains, a growing number of Adventist pastors volunteer to provide spiritual, moral and emotional support to emergency and community agencies such as police, sheriff and fire departments, and the Civil Air Patrol.

Chaplain numbers are exploding, and now hundreds of Adventist pastors in North America are assigned to chaplain work! They provide vital spiritual support to needy persons, many of whom would have no other contact with Adventists or Adventist ministers. They augment our evangelistic outreach to settings in which we would otherwise have very little if any impact. Even though they are not paid by Adventist conferences, they gladly represent Adventist Christianity. They play a crucial role in our Adventist mission.

Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries (ACM) supports and promotes the work of chaplains worldwide. In recent years, as the number of chaplains has exponentially increased, ACM has significantly expanded its reach and involvement in training and facilitating the work of Adventist chaplains. In spite of phenomenal growth in their assignment, a ministerial staff of only two oversees chaplain work worldwide. In North America three regional representatives assist those two and have the daunting task of staying in touch with chaplains and military service members over huge areas. Larry Roth, our Northwest ACM field representative, covers 14 states as well as all of western Canada — a huge and daunting assignment!

Featured in this issue of the GLEANER are just a few of the 33 Northwest chaplains. They represent hundreds of other devoted Adventist chaplains who carry the good news of God to a needy world. Their assignments often distance them from their Adventist pastor colleagues. Their assignments can be lonely and challenging. Those who work for other-than-Adventist employers sometimes feel isolated from their Adventist roots. Because all of them are part of us, we reclaim and reaffirm our support for them, for their calling and for their part in the mission of the Adventist Church. Thank you, Adventist chaplains, for enthusiastically representing your God and your church!

They gladly represent Adventist Christianity.