Circle Sanctuary Standards and Procedures for Endorsement of Chaplains, Pastoral Counselors, and Clinical Educators

Circle Sanctuary recognizes the responsibility to provide adequate professional and ecumenical ministry to persons of different denominations and faith groups in all settings, and strives to uphold the tenets of our purpose: Circle Sanctuary recognizes and honors the divine nature and essential human dignity of all persons, regardless of their race, ethnic origin, age, gender, gender identification, sexual orientation, religion, disability, economic circumstance, physical appearance, body size, marital status, or military status.

The Ministerial Committee requires that each Candidate prepare a portfolio demonstrating written and performed competency in the following areas:

  • Spiritual Formation and Identity: Ministry Philosophy, Spiritual Biography, Summary of Education and Training
  • Worship and Rites of Passage:
    • Life passages
    • Sabbats
    • Liturgy Components
    • Volunteer Work
  • Present and Future Circle Sanctuary Ministry Plans: Reference Circle Sanctuary Ways to Serve Document

 

Covenant of Ordination of Clergy

General: Any supporting member who has met the requirements for and been Ordained into the Circle Sanctuary, and who, having attained the minimum age of 21 years and an Associate’s degree or its equivalent from a recognized institution of higher learning, have been following a Pagan path for at least three years, and who have attended Pagan Spirit Gathering or other Circle Sanctuary sponsored events, may become eligible to be Ordained as a Minister by and in the name of Circle Sanctuary, regardless of sex, ethnicity, social or economic background, adverse life experience, or physical impairments. Ordained Ministers of Circle Sanctuary are duly recognized Clergy under statute, Common Law and Spiritual Obligations, and will function with the same responsibilities, rights and privileges of the Clergy of any other lawfully constituted church, denomination, faith, sect, or religious order. That is, they shall conduct worship ceremonies; engage in spiritual education; perform Rites of Passage consistent with social custom at times of birth, maturity, marriage, and death; provide religious counseling; and render such help and assistance to the congregation and community as they are able to provide in time of sickness and distress. Ministers of Circle Sanctuary will be ordained only by the authority and proclamation of the Board of Directors and Ministerial Committee.

Application: Any eligible candidate may apply in writing to the Ministerial Credentialing Program. The application may be accepted at any time, but will be considered for action at the discretion of the Ministerial Committee.  The application shall include a one page Spiritual Biography, one page Statement of Purpose for wanting to enter into ministry, and a one page Ministerial Philosophy which will cover the following areas:

  • What is a minister and what is his or her role in society?
  • What do you see as the essential personal skills, knowledge, and qualities of a minister?
  • Compare yourself to these essential skills, knowledge, and qualities.  What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • How will the Circle Sanctuary Ministry Training Program help to build the personal skills, knowledge, and qualities essential for ordination?

These documents shall be submitted together with the application and two letters of recommendation. The Ministerial Committee, in closed council, will evaluate the application and the applicant based on the moral character and maturity of the applicant, sincerity of the applicant, and content of the narrative. The applicant shall, as soon as possible, be informed of the decision of Circle. The notification of acceptance or declination shall be in writing by electronic mail or by phone notification.

Ordination: Upon successful completion of the Ministry Training Program requirements by an Eligible Candidate, and submission of the ordination portfolio, the Ministerial Committee will review the Candidate’s submission for quality of work and suitability of continuation of ministry. Directly following the review the Ministerial Committee will schedule a teleconference interview with the Candidate, whereby the decision of Ordination will be communicated. Upon decision by the Ministerial Committee, a Proclamation of Provisional Ordination will be issued to the Candidate.  The Rite of Ordination shall be conferred by two or more Ordained Clerics, preferably at Pagan Spirit Gathering, or other Circle Sanctuary sponsored event. Upon Conferral of the Rite of Ordination, Circle Sanctuary shall issue a Proclamation of Ordination and Letter of Charge in testimony thereof. Upon receiving the Rite of Ordination, the Candidate is spiritually and legally recognized as Clergy with full parity of the clergy of any other legally organized and recognized religion, faith, denomination, sect, or order.

Conditions, Terms of Service and Communication: The Clergy shall be appointed in tenure, and shall remain in voluntary compliance with the Constitution, By-Laws, Policies and Procedures of Circle Sanctuary. Every Ordained Minister shall communicate with Circle as necessary, but no less frequently than twice per year at Pagan Spirit Gathering and at Samhain. Failure to remain in compliance with the Constitution, By-Laws, Policies and Procedures of Circle Sanctuary, or failure to meet the communication requirement shall be cause for removal from the Clergy. Any minister may voluntarily resign that status, without prejudice, by submitting a written notification to the Board of Directors. Subsequent ordination or certification from other organizations is not prohibited, however, clergy persons who obtain additional credentials are required to notify the Ministerial Committee in writing, and to identify their primary organization of ordination under which they function. Clergy persons who seek endorsement with Circle Sanctuary for the purposes of chaplaincy or affiliation with external professional organizations must function with Circle Sanctuary as their primary ordinating organization. 

 

Endorsement

Ecclesiastical Endorsement with Circle Sanctuary is an affirmation that a person is, or will be, performing a valid extension ministry consistent with the communal vision and mission of Circle, and has presented evidence of having the special education, experience, and skills necessary to perform that ministry. Endorsement is granted per specific setting. Should an individual move from one setting to another, the endorsement will be reviewed, and if approved, issued for the new setting.

 

Endorsing Laypersons

A Layperson’s credential is provided to one who is called to service alongside clergy and provides spiritual care and counseling under direct supervision of a clergy person. Circle members who are credentialed as a Layperson have successfully completed the Circle Sanctuary Layperson Credentialing Program, or the Circle Sanctuary Military Circles Training Program as a community leader or are in the process. Endorsement is given to a specific setting. Should an individual move from one setting to another, the endorsement will be reviewed and, if approved, issued for the new setting.

 

Requirements for Endorsement

People seeking endorsement to a specific setting must meet the following criteria:

  1. Meet the general requirements for membership in the organization.
  2. Be recommended for Layperson credential by an ordained minister in Circle Sanctuary.
  3. Demonstrate competence in the areas of spiritual care and counseling.

 

The Endorsement Process

Applicants are responsible for providing materials requested on the application form.

  1. Provide names and addresses of two personal references from the community.
  2. Provide a succinct life history and statement of your understanding of ministry as it pertains to ministry in the setting for which you are seeking endorsement.
  3. When all your materials have been received and requirements met, an interview will be scheduled.

 

The Interview

A central interviewing committee is made up of ordained ministers. Whenever possible, at least one member of the committee will represent the setting for which you seek endorsement. The purpose of this interview is to understand your perception of faith as it relates to the setting in which you desire to minister.

Areas examined will include:

  • Moral and emotional stability (ability to effectively face crisis and adversity)
  • Self-evaluation (ability to objectively evaluate present ministry)
  • Theory of ministry (ability to express clearly)
  • Continuing education (willingness to obtain education, experience, and certification as they apply)
  • Cooperativeness/diversity (ability and willingness to work effectively in diverse settings)
  • Balance (ability to keep family and work in balance)
  • Minister/Clergy/Mentor (has someone who provides personal pastoral care)

Following the interview the committee will make a recommendation to the Ministerial Committee. Once you are endorsed, a copy of your endorsement will be sent to you and the setting for your lay ministry. Endorsement is to a setting. If you no longer serve in that setting, the endorsement is withdrawn. As well, please contact Circle Sanctuary if you change settings, since a new endorsement may be required. Provisional endorsement may be granted if you successfully complete the endorsing process but lack the required professional certification. Such endorsement will include specific requirements to be fulfilled before full endorsement can be issued.

 

Endorsing Clergy

Clergy endorsement is the process by which Circle Sanctuary ensures people providing ministry in professional settings are capable and appropriate representatives of the congregation. These ministries include but are not limited to the military, correctional institutions, the Department of Veterans Health Administration, health-care settings, pastoral counseling, marriage and family counseling, workplace ministries, community service ministries, university ministries, and various other ministries. Ordained Circle Sanctuary Ministers may apply for endorsement under this category. Ministers in Training my apply for Layperson credentialing until they have met the requirements for ordination. Endorsement is given to a specific setting. Should an individual move from one setting to another, the endorsement will be reviewed and, if approved, issued for the new setting.

Endorsement addresses the following core standards through a process of written papers, interviews, and mutual discernment:

  • Academic and clinical education
  • Ministerial and spiritual integrity
  • Ministry practice congruent with Circle Sanctuary’s Mission and Bylaws
  • Ability to work in ways that promote equity, collegiality, and diversity in pluralistic environments
  • Ongoing spiritual formation and growth

The following are required for application for endorsement to be considered:

  • Completed Endorsement Application Form.
  • Two original reflections written for this application:
  • A reflection of your life story on 1-2 pages that includes the following:
    • Your family of origin
    • The influences that have shaped you
    • The primary relationships that are important in sustaining you today
  • A reflection on your spiritual journey, and vocation on 3-5 pages that includes at minimum the following:
    • How your spirituality has changed, grown, and matured over your lifespan
    • What beliefs are important to you
    • How your beliefs shape your spiritual life and ministry
    • How you actively engage in and practice your spirituality
    • How you have experienced and pursued your call to ministry
    • How have you experienced and lived out your pastoral identity and authority
  • A one page reflection describing how your understanding of Circle Sanctuary’s Code of Ethics for Endorsed Clergy and your professional code(s) of ethics mutually inform one another.

Application Submission: All completed materials must be submitted to the Ministerial Committee.

Following Endorsement: In order to maintain endorsement with Circle Sanctuary, all endorsed clergy agree to:

  • Participate actively in a local community;
  • Make an annual financial contribution to Circle Sanctuary to maintain membership;
  • Submit an Annual Report including affirmation of the Code of Ethics for Recognized Clergy for Circle Sanctuary by October 31 of each calendar year;
  • Notify the Ministerial Committee of any change of ministry setting and any legal, ethical, or professional actions filed against the person within one month of the change;
  • Attend Pagan Spirit Gathering or other Circle Sanctuary sponsored event. Attendance at events is required in order to foster relationships within and among Circle’s family and nurture the well-being and potential for ministry of those recognized by this process;
  • Attend educational opportunities to continue furthering your education and spiritual growth.

 

Endorsing Chaplains

Chaplain endorsement is the process by which Circle Sanctuary recognizes and affirms the need for professional representation in pluralistic settings. These ministries include but are not limited to the military, correctional institutions, the Department of Veterans Health Administration, health-care settings, pastoral counseling, marriage and family counseling, workplace ministries, community service ministries, university ministries, and various other ministries. Ordained Circle Sanctuary Ministers may apply for endorsement under this category. Ministers in Training my apply for Layperson credentialing until they have met the requirements for ordination. Endorsement is given to a specific setting. Should an individual move from one setting to another, the endorsement will be reviewed and, if approved, issued for the new setting.

Please see the requirements for endorsing clergy with the following additions:

  • Educational Requirements: A graduate theological degree from a school that is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools. The applicant must provide official copies of transcripts of earned educational credits.
  • At least two years of pastoral/spiritual leadership experience in a congregation or specialized ministry setting. One year of clinical pastoral education Residency will satisfy one year of the requirements for endorsement. (Provide letter(s) verifying pastoral/spiritual leadership).
  • At least one completed unit of Clinical Pastoral Education from an accredited CPE center. CPE residency or equivalent is recommended. (Provide letter of verification or certificate of completed CPE units and final evaluations.)

 

Please note: Endorsement for chaplains will be based on the criteria for certified membership in Circle Sanctuary.

Endorsement for clinical pastoral supervisors will be based on the criteria for certified supervisors in the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education.