According to the COMISS Network, formerly the Council on Ministries in Specialized Settings, a Religious Endorsing Body is a faith group, denomination or religious organization which endorses individuals of their respective group for chaplaincy, pastoral counseling, and/or other professional pastoral care ministries. This latter is usually Clinical Pastoral Education. A Religious Endorsing body will be able to demonstrate a process of endorsement which includes a clear accountability between the endorser and the endorsed individual. Also, these organizations will be able to demonstrate recognition as a religious endorsing body by showing that they are listed on one or more of the following: the list published by the Armed Forces Chaplains Board, the list published by the Department of Veterans Affairs National Chaplain Center, or the Handbook of Denominations in the United States published by Abingdon Press.
According to the Association of Religious Endorsing Bodies (AREB) Endorsement addresses the following core standards through a process of written papers, interviews and mutual discernment:
Relationships between the religious endorsing bodies and the professional specialized ministries commissioning bodies such as the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, the Association of Professional Chaplains, the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, etc. are undertaken in a spirit of collaboration, mutual respect and commitment to quality ministry. Endorsement and Commissioning are unique and are not interchangeable. Changes in status of endorsees are communicated to each other. Transfers of Endorsement take place in accordance with agreed procedures. As a member of both the COMISS Network and AREB, FCM strives to adhere to these standards.
It is the expectation of the Association of Religious Endorsing Bodies that its members shall have:
FCM serves as the Religious Endorsing Body agency for FCMs affiliate communities, including the St. Barnabas Mission, an IRS recognized church, which provide FCMs formal lay constituency bodies required by AREB and the COMISS Network as well as the several thousand other lay constituents served by those FCM Commissioned Ministers who are house church based and who have publicly recognized at large ministries in this trans-denominational ecumenical and interfaith age.
Applicants for FCM Endorsement will be expected to have a relationship of accountability and service with an FCM affiliate community as well as with their FCM regional community at least through contact with their Regional Vice President as they live out the fundamental FCM commitments to koinonia (community), diakonia (service) and marturia (witness/worship).This relationship will be described as part of their Annual FCM Endorsed Members Report.
FCM is a member of the International Council of Community Churches (ICCC) and FCMs Commissioned Members who so choose are eligible for individual clergy status recognition by the ICCC. Such members, if they wish, may elect to seek Endorsement in the name of the ICCC and FCM will administer its Endorsement application process on their behalf as an agent of the ICCC. However, such Endorsements are made by the ICCC and not by FCM.
FCMs Endorsement process is multi-tiered, involving documentation, affirmations and collegial committee interviews conducted and supervised by the FCMs National Committee on Specialized Ministries which presents the candidate to the FCM Circle of Directors for definitive action. FCMs Endorsement is for one calendar year or a portion thereof and is renewable annually with the completion of an Annual Report on their Specialized Ministry and the payment of the Annual Fee. The Endorsement fees are set by the Circle of Directors from time to time.
Further information on FCMs Religious Endorsing Body Program may be obtained from the FCM National Committee on Specialized Ministries, Christy Howard-Steele, 2532 Athens Road, Olymphia Fields, IL 60461-1908.
Email at specmin@FCMmail.org Telephone (708) 285-5845.