Martin W. Feldbush
When New York's World Trade Center fell on September 11, 2001,
Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries (ACM) was there to train pastors in grief ministry.
When the first clinical pastoral education training program was needed in South
America, Argentinian chaplain Hugo Portal responded. When the formerly Communist
Czech Republic opened its correctional systems and military to ministry, union
conference leaders authorized the inclusion of Adventist chaplains; in Latvia,
leaders installed correctional chaplains.
When the United States Senate selected its new chaplain, Adventist Barry Black
was chosen. When a new chaplain was needed at public Kenyatta University, near
Nairobi, an Adventist minister was hired. When souls were won from among the
prison inmate population in South Africa, Adventist lay chaplain assistants
assisted. When the recent Indian Ocean tsunami took its deadly toll, General
Conference, division, and union ACM directors worked together to train nearly
200 chaplains and pastors in trauma response and grief ministry.
Throughout the world hundreds of men and women serve in full-time,
part-time, or official volunteer chaplain positions; in a number of locations
trained chaplain assistants augment their ranks by nearly 1,000. The largest
numbers are employed in health-care and educational settings in scores of countries
throughout the world.
Five or six years ago military and correctional chaplains served
only in the United States. Since then military chaplains have been added in
Canada, the Czech Republic, Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi; correctional chaplains
have been added in Canada, the Czech Republic, and Latvia. Together this global
force of crisis ministers takes the gospel into places where the church might
not otherwise be present--places like death row, emergency rooms, and battlefields,
not to mention great centers of learning.
Yearly, many souls are won to Christ and His church, the gospel
seed is planted in millions of hearts, and untold goodwill is generated toward
the church. In addition, there is the practical benefit of added employment
opportunities for ministers with specialized gifts. All of this is done at a
very low cost to the church. The church enjoys nearly US$20 million worth of
free ministry each year, based on the fact that the majority of Adventist chaplains
are remunerated from nonchurch funds. The funding of ACM offices in the divisions
of the General Conference is a cost-effective use of tithe monies.
Providing support for this ministry are ACM leaders at the General
Conference and in nearly every division office; some divisions have union leaders
as well. Last year Richard O. Stenbakken retired after 12 years as director
of the General Conference Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries Department. Our division
ACM leaders or liaison personnel include: Japheth Agboka (West-Central Africa
Division); Jonathan Catolico (Southern Asia-Pacific Division); Joshua Dong Hee
Shin (Northern Asia-Pacific Division); Eugene Fransch (Southern Africa-Indian
Ocean Division); Jochen Hawlitschek (Euro-Africa Division); Anthony Kent (South
Pacific Division); Victor Krushenitzky (Euro-Asia Division); Lionel Lyngdoh
(Southern Asia Division); Bernardo Rodriguez (Inter-American Division); Tito
Rodriguez (South American Division); Orville Woolford (Trans-European Division).
Our General Conference ACM Department also provides services
within the North American Division.
ACM is relatively new, having been created as a General Conference
service in 1985 and raised to departmental status in 1995. Thus in 2001 we conducted
our second world advisory, with delegates representing 10 divisions in attendance
at the General Conference headquarters. After several days of program review
and strategic planning, we voted many resolutions. Chief among them were several
goals: (1) increased development of chaplaincy and student ministries on public
university campuses; (2) expansion of leadership development and policy structures
for division ACM programs; (3) development of an organized degree or certificate
program for chaplain education; (4) additional resources for chaplains and chaplaincy
leaders; (5) continuing education for our chaplains in the area of crisis ministry
and communication skills.
Since 2001 we have made significant strides toward these goals:
To develop student campus ministry leaders in public universities
is being piloted in North America. This plan or similar ones will be implemented
in other divisions in partnership with the Education and Youth departments.
ACM advisories, for planning and leadership development,
have been conducted in the Northern Asia-Pacific, East-Central Africa, West-Cental
Africa, Inter-American, and Southern Asia-Pacific divisions.
Working with Griggs University, ACM has developed a Graduate Certificate in
Pastoral Care, which can later be the specialty track for a Master of Christian
ACM continuing education workshops and other educational programs and consultations
have been conduced in 28 countries.
A significant number of resources for chaplains and ACM leaders have been
identified and distributed.
I maintain a list of 24 specific services and resources requested
by division ACM leaders and developed by our office that cluster in part around
these major emphases: (1) recruitment and placement of chaplains committed to
Christ and the mission of the church; (2) integrating our chaplains into the
mission of the church; (3) developing chaplains who are professionally competent;
(4) providing organizational support and resources for chaplains, and (5) creating
networking opportunities for fellowship and continued growth among
In a sense, ACM is the "trauma ministry" department,
helping develop a core of qualified crisis ministers who can respond in the
name of the church to events such as the recent Indian Ocean tsunami in Southeast
This past January I responded to an invitation from Jonathan
Catolico, ACM director of the Southern Asia-Pacific Division, to conduct four
pastoral trauma response and grief ministry workshops for nearly 200 chaplains
and pastors in the tsunami-stricken regions of the division. While ACM equipped
Adventist ministers for their work, local Adventist Community Service agencies
and ADRA International were also engaged in their relief work, joined later
by Loma Linda University's trauma response team. It represented the best of
Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries and our church--being where the people are,
and following Christ's methods of ministry.
Send inquiries about ACM, or the ministry of chaplaincy, to
email@example.com, or to your division ACM director.