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  • Chaplain Scouter Question

    I am considering stepping into the Chaplain position. I am a layperson in good standing in the same denomination as our CO. I am trying to read up on my resources as I want to do a good job.

    When looking at some of the BSA material it seems that the Chaplin position was designed for an ordained person. Is a layperson unusual?

    Our position has been vacant for a couple years. I surveyed several Troops around us (based at a Methodist, Roman Catholic, and Presbyterian churches respectively) for advice--none had an active Chaplain.

    Anybody have any observations or advice?

  • #2
    Our chaplain sits in the background. But I do visit with our chaplains aide to make sure we have a prayer, etc.

    In a perfect world, i would like the chaplain to schedule scout sunday activities, and keep track of and work with the aide on religious awards, as well as working with the aide for prayer formulation, etc.


    • #3
      I am not aware of any requirement that a chaplain to a BSA unit be ordained clergy. In larger congregations that have charters, an assistant pastor, or similar person, may register as a unit chaplain, but I would far rather have an interested effective non clergy chaplain than a no show ordained clergy chaplain.(This message has been edited by eisely)


      • #4
        I agree that some of the literature does make it sound like the chaplain would normally be an ordained minister. However, my experience is that that would be a rare situation in practice. We've had a number of troop chaplains, and none of them have been ordained. I really think that most troops do not have an option of having an ordained person serve as chaplain. A layperson would not just be not unusual - it would be far and away the norm.


        • #5
          One of the advantages of having the Chaplain ordained is they tend to be savvy in traditions other than their own. Whether or not they act on that knowledge is another thing. As an ordained minister I have been called upon at times to do the camporee/summer camp worship service where there is a large mixed bag of differing traditions. If there are Muslims and/or Jewish boys present one does not want to offend anyone so prayers oriented to maybe Indian tradition, great Creator Spirit, or generic references like Creator God tends to be less offensive that praying in the Name of Jesus.

          Homilies should be generic focused on the Scout Law/Oath drawing supporting information from a variety of different traditions if possible.

          For some ordained clergy this can be a stretch, but it can be like running on broken glass barefoot for the layperson. In a group specific situation, i.e. LDS, this wouldn't be a problem for a layperson. But if you are at summer camp and the director sees Chaplain on the uniform, you may get tagged and it could get ugly real fast.



          • #6
            The problem you describe is no different than putting together a Scout's Own.


            • #7
              From the "Manual for Chaplains and Chaplain's Aides" at

              The troop chaplain is an adult who may be a troop committee member, the executive officer of a religious chartered organization, or serves in another leadership capacity. It is customary that the religious leader, or an appointee of the chartered organization, will serve as chaplain if the troop is operated by a religious organization. A troop not operated by a religious organization may select a chaplain from local members of the clergy.

              The chaplain should

              1.Provide a spiritual element for campouts and troop meetings
              2.Provide spiritual counseling when needed or requested
              3.Provide opportunities for all boys to grow in their relationship with God and their fellow Scouts
              4.Encourage Scouts to participate in the religious emblems program of their respective faith
              5.Be familiar with the chaplain aide section of this manual
              6.Work with the troop chaplain aide to plan and conduct an annual Scout-oriented religious observance, preferably during Scout Week in February


              • #8
                Per the insignia guide(of all of the places for this reference to be) the Chaplain is an "ordained or church-appointed clergy"


                • #9
                  Thanks everybody. I think most clergy is pretty busy these days. I figured I would need my C.O. approval anyway.


                  • #10
                    We have a committee member (non-ordained) who coordinates Scout Sunday, helps boys with their religious awards, and updates the troop on area church happenings. So, I asked him to wear the Chaplain patch! (OK, pleaded, cajoled, pressured..) He loved the idea and so does the troop and the CO! Why not? He was doing the job anyway! Win-win all around!


                    • #11
                      Any ship in a storm!

                      As momma (who,if pinched, bled Bible) said, always be ready to give a reason for the Hope that is in you.

                      If you can do that in a boy friendly way, you should have the job. Most Christian COs support lay leadership! You just have to mind what your boundaries (e.g., serving communion or holding baptisms ipwould require ordination in most sects).


                      • #12
                        Typically, the chaplain is either the clergy, or someone appointed/approved by them, for a troop where the chartered org is a religious organization.

               is my Blog, where I discuss Faith and Scouting related topics. Feel free to drop by for ideas. I don't claim to be an expert, but someone still learning about it.


                        • #13
                          I can dig it. Since we have such a diverse Troop I need to prepare so I am not a bonehead. If our CO Church wants and can find a good ordained Chaplain I will be more than happy. Just trying to fill a need.

                          Whenever I quiz a boy about living the scout oath and law Reverent, Thrifty, and Clean seem to need the most help with the boys.


                          • #14
                            I asked my church heirarchy to "appoint" me, and they did, and that fulfilled any requirement. I also cleared it with the pastor at our Charter Partner's facilty. I did it for four years, and then got demoted to Scoutmaster. I stll do services on campouts, though.


                            • #15
                              Depending on your CO's denomination, a lay person may provide that role. In an ideal situation, the lead pastor would have a role in your Troop/Pack/Crew. Unfortunately, in all my years of Scouting (30 Years this fall) I have only met a handful of clergy that were BSA Chaplains and only one of those was outside of a Jamboree setting. (He was an Eagle Scout who became a pastor and wanted to be involved with his son's unit.)

                              God Doesnt Call the QualifiedGod Qualifies the Called!

                              I wasn't looking to be named District Chaplain but we had a need and I was asked. So I try & learn. Last summer I was invited to lead vespers at camp and had a great experience. Maybe the courses at Philmont are in my future.

                              Another layman I talked to said the first question he was asked was "What is your training?" Capitol Area Council in Texas had a great training course online for Chaplains and I get the idea that they operate a kind of Chaplains Corps.