Norm Stitzel, a GARBC endorsed lay chaplain and member of Faith Baptist Church, received the Meritorious Service Award on the Marine Corps’ birthday for his service as commandant and chaplain of the United States Marine Corps League Detachment #221. Cortland’s mayor and chief of police were present during the presentation of the award.

Norm headed up the Toys for Tots program in the Cortland area. Faith Baptist, pastored by Matthew Smith, donated DVDs that shared the account of the nativity. The DVDs, which included the church’s contact info, went to 118 families with 351 children. A total of 1,053 gifts were given to area families.

Lay chaplaincy

Few other ministries provide believers such a natural, challenging exposure to the people in their communities who need to hear the gospel. Consider the many Americans today who are increasingly suspect of religious personnel and are reluctant to enter a church. Lay chaplaincy facilitates church ministries at the local level.

Prisons, hospitals, athletic teams, and veteran and civilian service organizations often turn to individuals without advanced degrees or ordination to serve as volunteer chaplains. Lay chaplaincy, part of the community service chaplaincy, does not call for the educational or physical requirements of the military and institutional (vocational) chaplaincies. It is enough that a church body endorses the layperson and that his or her life demonstrates a relationship with the Almighty.

The job description of a lay chaplain may be as simple as opening and closing meetings in prayer or visiting hospitalized individuals. Whatever the setting, chaplaincy provides opportunities to demonstrate living Christianity to individuals who would not normally seek out a church.

Requirements for lay chaplaincy

  • Salvation and membership in good standing in a Regular Baptist church
  • Letter of recommendation from the applicant’s pastor
  • Completed lay chaplaincy application
  • Completed doctrinal questionnaire

Ordination is not required for lay chaplaincy, so both men and women may apply. Laypeople who evidence a growing understanding of Scripture and an ability to minister to the people within the particular institution are encouraged to work with their pastors to seek GARBC endorsement. In lieu of ordination, the applicant should request a commissioning service by his or her church and a letter from the pastor affirming the applicant’s demonstrated fitness for this particular chaplaincy position. (This process will need to be repeated if the applicant moves to a different church.)

Chaplain John Murdoch serves as the director of the Regular Baptist Chaplaincy Ministries.