Q. Does SCPSCA ordain me to be a chaplain?
A. No, SCPSCA is not a religious organization. We are a trade organization for the state public safety chaplains.
Q. Does SCPSCA certify me to be a chaplain?
A. No, the training that we do does not certify you to be a chaplain. You will get a certificate of completion for the courses though.
Q. Who makes me a chaplain?
A. Well, that is a very good question. Your faith group ordains/commissions/licenses you to be a chaplain. This is your ecclesiastical endorsement. Your department is the one that actually says that you are a chaplain. They will be the one that puts you in uniform. They will be the one who you work for and report to.
Q. What are some of the benefits of being a member of the chaplain association
A. - Early notification and access to SCPSCA training three times a year
- Support network among 130+ chaplains statewide
- Access to many other trainings throughout the year.
- Helping shape chaplaincy and train the public safety chaplains in South Carolina
- Access to advanced chaplain training
Q. What is the training that SCPSCA is involved with?
International Conference of Police Chaplains "12 Basic Courses"
Federation of Fire Chaplains "Essentials of Fire Chaplaincy" (Taught by SCPSCA members through the State Fire Academy)
Dealing with Difficult Deaths*
Ethics for Chaplains*
Chaplaincy & The Law (Taught by SCPSCA members through the State Fire Academy)
Day-long training that happens three times a year throughout the state and online.
*On hold during COVID.
Q. Does SCPSCA deploy to major events?
A. SCPSCA members do not self-deploy to major events. At the request of the main agency, we can bring together highly trained chaplains from around the state to help with almost any crisis event including a line of duty death events.
Q. Is SCPSCA a para-church organization?
A. SCPSCA is a trade organization, like the South Carolina State Firefighters Association. We have members that serve in para-church chaplain ministries, but most of us work/volunteer for government organizations.
Q. Why did SCPSCA come about?
A. SCPSCA came about from a number of chaplains in the state that had a desire/vision to see professional public safety chaplaincy in South Carolina. With a professional public safety chaplaincy, the chaplains could support each other, engage in professional training, and be pulled together for deployment to major incidents that would overwhelm the chaplains on the ground.
Q. Is SCPSCA affiliated with a certain faith group/denomination?
A. No. SCPSCA members are made up of many different faith groups/denominations. We are all chaplains who care about first responders and the people they serve.
Q. I'm a pastor, can I be a chaplain?
A. We have a number of pastors that are also chaplains, but public safety chaplaincy is not the same as pastoral ministry. We adhere to different understandings of law and court rulings. You cannot take pastoral ministry into chaplaincy without the real possibility that you and your department will be sued.
Q. How much are dues?
A. Dues are $30/year. We have intentionally kept the cost low since most departments do not have a budget for their chaplains or chaplain training.
Q. Do I have to be ordained to be a chaplain?
A. No. We have a number of chaplains throughout the state who are not ordained. There are legal and some possible tax benefits if you are ordained though. We can discuss them with you.
Q. What kind of training does it take to be a chaplain?
A. All it takes to be a chaplain is your department saying that you are the chaplain. To be a good/professional chaplain takes a whole lot more. A professional chaplain would have:
Essentials of Fire Chaplaincy by the Federation of Fire Chaplains or the "12 Basic Courses" by the International Conference of Police Chaplains
Training in group and individual crisis intervention
Training in peer support intervention
Basic Fire/Police/EMS training at the awareness level
Pastoral Crisis Intervention I & II
Suicide Awareness/Intervention training
ICS 100, 200, 505 & 700
Chaplaincy & The Law
There are many colleges/universities that have Bachelors, Masters and even Doctorate degrees in chaplaincy
Some would include Clinical Pastoral Education training
Training on death, dying, and grief
Training on Burnout, Compassion Fatigue, Vicarious Trauma, and PTSD/I
Some chaplains have advanced training/degrees in counseling and psychology
Q. Can I get paid as a public safety chaplain?
A. Probably not. Currently, in South Carolina, there are less than 10 chaplains who draw a salary.
Q. How many hours a week would I put into chaplaincy??
A. While that will vary from department to department we would think that 5-10 hours a week would be a good start. Anything less than 5 hours and your first responders won't know who you are. Remember, a chaplain that isn't seen is a chaplain that isn't used.
Q. Will I see dead bodies?
A. Probably. You will see the same things that your first responders do. Not everyone is cut out for chaplain ministry, and that's OK.
Q. Will I be "winning people to Christ?"
A. Chaplaincy is probably not what you think it is. Chaplains only share their faith when they are asked. We work within a permission-based environment. If you come into chaplaincy with an agenda other than just loving people, first responders will know and keep you at arm's length.
Q. Will I carry a gun?
A. Again, I don't think you understand what chaplaincy is. We are not wannabe police officers or firefighters. We are professionals in our own right. If you want to carry a gun we suggest going to the police academy and becoming a reserve officer.