Who we are

Royal Army Chaplains' Department

CARING FOR THE ARMY'S PEOPLE

Life as an Army Chaplain is a calling like no other.  Belonging to a remarkable organisation of young men and women, sharing your life with them and serving alongside them wherever they go brings tremendous opportunities and challenges. It is a vocation that is both demanding and rewarding and offers an adventurous journey of faith.

ABOUT US

FORMED

23 September 1796

ROLE

Caring for the Army's people

SPECIALISM

Pastoral Care, spiritual support and moral guidance

Our Chaplains

  • Support troops and their families whenever they need it
  • Travel wherever their Unit goes
  • Experience ministry in a wide variety of settings in the UK and overseas
  • Provide leadership but do not command
  • Are non-combatant and do not bear arms
  • Wear the uniform of the British Army
  • Initially receive a six-year distinctive King’s commission with a minimum period of three years’ return of service

Unit assignments for Regular chaplains generally last between two and three years.

Armed Forces Chaplaincy Centre

Beckett House is the Tri-service Armed Forces Chaplaincy Centre.

Located in Shrivenham, it is home to Chaplaincy training for the three services and delivers and a variety of courses for MOD personnel.

Armed Forces Chaplaincy Centre

A vocation as an Army Chaplain

Do you have the skills, training and knowledge that the Army needs? Supported by the appropriate Endorsing Authority, we can give you the chance to take that further.

You must be an ordained minister of one of the following churches: Anglican communion, Assemblies of God, Baptist Union of Great Britain, Church of Scotland, Free Church of Scotland, Churches in Communities International, Congregational Federation, Elim Pentecostal, Methodist, Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Roman Catholic, United Reformed Church, or the Salvation Army.

Or be an authorised and qualified religious leader from the Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim or Sikh Faith Communities.

 

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The Role of Army Chaplains

The purpose of the Royal Army Chaplains’ Department is to care for the Army’s people. Our Chaplains, who are Professionally Qualified Officers, deliver pastoral care to everyone, provide or facilitate spiritual support and give moral guidance to the whole force and their families irrespective of faith, world philosophy or status.

You will play a key role in improving the Army’s culture and behaviours to forge a winning team by:

  • Delivering pastoral care to everyone at home and abroad
  • Providing or facilitating spiritual support publicly and privately, at every level of the Army
  • Offering moral guidance and ethical leadership to Service personnel and the Chain of Command
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Regular Chaplain

You must be under the age of 50 years at the time you commission into the RAChD and be medically and physically fit. The selection process involves endorsement by your Endorsing Authority and a familiarisation visit to meet serving chaplains at an Army camp. There are security, child protection and medical checks and clearances.

You then attend the Army Officer Selection Board (AOSB) at Westbury which consists of physical and mental aptitude assessments, intelligence tests, planning tasks and written work.

Following selection by the RAChD you will undertake initial training at the Armed Forces Chaplaincy Centre, Shrivenham followed by the Commissioning Course (Short) at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst.

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Reservist Chaplain

You should be under the age of 50 years at the time you commission into the RAChD and be medically and physically fit, although applications up to 56 may be considered. The selection process involves endorsement by your Endorsing Authority and a familiarisation visit to meet serving chaplains at an Army camp. There are security, child protection and medical checks and clearances.

You then attend the Army Officer Selection Board (AOSB) at Westbury which consists of physical and mental aptitude assessments, intelligence tests, planning tasks and written work.

Following selection by the RAChD you will be assigned to a Reserve unit as close as possible to your place of civilian ministry and undertake initial training at the Armed Forces Chaplaincy Centre, Shrivenham. Within the first two years of commissioning, you will also train at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst.

Your ministry will involve visiting your soldiers on their weeknight training, accompanying them on weekend training and attending the two-week annual training camp. With the consent of your Endorsing Authority you may be mobilised on operational duty.

ACF Padres Jeal And Reid (3)

Army Cadet Force Chaplain

You should be under the age of 55 years (or 60 with previous military service) at the time you commission.

You must have at least two years experience of ordained ministry and be able to offer a three-year commitment.  There are security and child protection checks and clearances. You will be required to attend interviews with the Regional Senior Chaplain followed by attendance at a regional Army Cadets Commissions Board where your suitability to work in the Army Cadets will be further assessed.

Following successful selection, you will be attached to a county or area ACF, where you will undergo basic familiarisation supported by a Senior Regular Chaplain and an experienced ACF Chaplain. You will undertake initial training at the Armed Forces Chaplaincy Centre, Shrivenham and have the opportunity to attend further annual continuation training.

Your principal commitment is to the annual camp which generally lasts between 10 and 14 days. You would also be expected to visit training evenings and weekends.

Joanna Jepson

Regimental Chaplain, The Revd J Jepson CF

“Being an Army chaplain is an extraordinary way of serving; one in which I am challenged constantly – both spiritually and physically.  It feels like a daily privilege to be part of the Royal Army Chaplains’ Department, working with my fellow chaplains in the pastoral, spiritual and moral support of all our soldiers and their families.”

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Chaplain General, The Revd M Parker QHC CF

"As chaplains, we have time for people and time to care for them. We celebrate with them.  We listen to them when they're having problems.  We are there for them in all of the challenges that they might face, whether on operations, serving at home or times of separation from their families.

“It may to us be the smallest example of our vocation - listening, comforting, advising, praying - but to those we serve, it can be a life changing encounter.”

Revd Parker was born in Cornwall and initially trained as an Electrical Engineer for the Ministry of Defence.  He read Theology at the University of Birmingham and trained for Methodist ministry at Queen’s College.  He worked in the Colchester Methodist Circuit for four years and was commissioned into the Royal Army Chaplains’ Department in 2000. 

Timeline - Past to Present

From before 1066, Armies have taken clergy with them to war. The roles of chaplains within the military have changed significantly but their presence has remained as important as ever. 

  1. 1796

    The Army Chaplains' Department formed under the first Chaplain General, the Reverend John Gamble.

  2. 1854

    The Crimean War. 26,000 troops with one deployable chaplain; the Reverend Henry Press Wright. The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel financed more chaplains. Eventually six deployed; twelve died.

  3. 1879

    The Reverend James William Adams was the first clergyman to be awarded the Victoria Cross.

  4. 1914-18

    Chaplains became synonymous with the bringing of comfort, care and compassion to those caught up in WW1.  Prefix ‘Royal’ granted by the King in 1919 following WW1.

  5. 1939-45

    WW2 saw chaplains learning new skills like parachuting with new formations such as Airborne Forces.  Chaplains sustained captives in far east prison camps and the Burma-Siam railway.

  6. Present

    Since 1945, chaplains have continued to serve wherever British soldiers are sent.  The conflicts may change but the call, care, compassion and prayer remains constant.

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Deployment pays testament to Padre’s all-inclusive service

British Army Chaplain Christopher Kinch based in Tidworth, Wiltshire with 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh has been overseas numerous times in his military career but his deployment on Operation CABRIT in Estonia saw him achieve a career first.

INTERESTED IN BECOMING AN ARMY CHAPLAIN?

HOW TO APPLY

Contact details

Contact us to find out more about a vocation to serve in the Royal Army Chaplains' Department.