A leading, Christian conservative endorsing agency for military chaplains has issued educational standards for their chaplain candidates rendering Master of Divinity degrees from Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University ineligible for endorsement. This bold and uncompromising action highlights the critical need for all military chaplains to possess solid graduate education, cultural competency, and clinical training.
Liberty University 72-hour M.Div. Chaplaincy Program
As of 12 October 2014 and until further notice, new applications from candidates who hold or are currently pursuing the Liberty University 72-hour M.Div. Chaplaincy Program will not be processed by this endorsing agency.**
We at The Coalition of Spirit-filled Churches are passionate about those to whom our chaplains will minister. Their institutions deserve the highest quality of pastoral care. With limited resources and staff, I personally spend an enormous amount of time, energy, and resources to vet each prospective candidate for endorsement. I spend a good deal of time, also, visiting our chaplains at their service schools and professional conferences. And I constantly act as liaison with the Chaplain Corps and other institutions to which we endorse. There are no short-cuts for providing quality professional endorsement. There are also no short-cuts for preparations for chaplaincy by candidates. Here at The Coalition, each applicant is personally screened and every aspect of their qualifications, experience and talents collated for their board package. We have found that the 72-hour Liberty University degree consistently falls short in competitiveness for board selection. We often wonder if it demonstrates a short-cut attitude toward preparations for what can be rigorous, challenging and demanding duty. For this reason, we currently must make the difficult decision to no longer consider these degrees.
If you already hold such a degree but have enhanced it with substantial additional graduate course work and/or nationally-accredited specialty ministry training such as clinical pastoral education, Prepare-Enrich certification or Critical Incident Stress Management Certification, PTSD Treatment, etc., feel free to contact us to discuss your individual preparation for chaplaincy and possible application for endorsement. Applicants with these additional credentials may be considered on a case-by-case basis. All others simply are not competitive for military chaplaincy positions, in our experience.
By the way, some military chaplaincy applicants report being very encouraged by their conversations with military recruiters. Unfortunately, this is highly misleading and such “encouragement” is misplaced. Legally, if one technically “qualifies” within the general parameters of the chaplaincy program requirements, one MUST be allowed to apply for consideration for commissioning within the Chaplain Corps. Even if the applicant is not competitive at all and the odds are 1 out of 1,000 for selection, that applicant still has the “right” to apply. So please do not mistake a recruiter’s simple willingness to process your application as “a good sign!” They are simply following regulations.
Incidentally, a few folks have asked why we have taken such a stand regarding Liberty University’s seminary. Interestingly, in the last week of October 2014 we received an unsolicited comment from one of our endorsees who is an alum of that seminary:
“…Regarding Liberty. I started out taking classes at Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) in Waxahachie, Texas. Most of my fellow chaplain candidates were completing their seminary degrees at Liberty. The tuition was half of SAGU and classes were offered more frequently. So I transferred to Liberty. I took classes at Liberty for about two years. However, I found the academic depth and standards to be significantly inferior to SAGU and other master level degree programs. I had also taken graduate business coursework at Texas A&M before taking classes at Liberty. I had 3-5 page papers at Liberty versus 15-25 page papers at SAGU. I typically had two textbooks per class at Liberty versus four to six at SAGU. Also, Liberty will let someone graduate with a Master of Divinity degree with a 2.0 grade-point-average. I don’t know of any other University of Seminary that grants graduate degrees without a 3.0 grade-pointaverage or above.”
Frankly, we thought that he might be exaggerating things a bit about Liberty University graduating folks with a minimal GPA of 2.0 — and we then spoke with one of our active duty chaplains who is an alum of their 93-hour program. Our chaplain directed us to http:// www.liberty.edu/online/?PID=27632. We see this as very sad and we hope that the military and prospective quality chaplains take note.