Welcome to the Buddhist Chaplaincy Endorsement (BCE)

BCE was established to endorse chaplains who self identify as Buddhist, regardless of your lineage or Buddhist practice or tradition. As a division of Five Mountain Zen Order (FMZO) we naturally endorse FMZO chaplains, but BCE was also founded to endorse Buddhist chaplains whose own Buddhist communities do not offer endorsement or are not structured to be able to support and endorse a chaplain,

What is Endorsement and Why Get Endorsed?

Endorsement (sometimes called "Ecclisiastical Endorsement") is an official declaration by a faith group or religious body that a person is in good standing with the group or body. Endorsement carries with it the implication that the person is accountable to the group or body, has a relationship with the group or body, and has agreed to adhere to the rules of conduct, ethical standards and competencies defined and required by that group or body. Being endorsed also means that a chaplain can represent the religious body or group in a pastoral or ministerial setting. Importantly, in practical terms, endorsement is a requirement of most major certifying bodies such as the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC), the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy (CPSP), the Spiritual Care Association (SCA) and others. Endorsement is also required by the Military, certain Governmental agencies and prisons in order for a chaplain to serve in one of those institutions. Where a chaplain is seeking formal certification, endorsement is usually the first step in the process.

Does Endorsement by BCE Mean I Have To Adopt FMZO's Specific Buddhist Practices?

No. In order for BCE to endorse you we will require that you self identify as a Buddhist and that if you are not a practicing member of FMZO then that you are an active practicing member of some Buddhist group or community. But while FMZO is rooted in Korean and Vietnamese Zen Buddhist traditions, in becoming endorsed by BCE you are not committing yourself to follow these particular Zen traditions or their practices per se.

What makes BCE unique, though, is that it will endorse any chaplain who meets our requirements regardless of the Buddhist tradition they are associate with or identify with. In this way, BCE is a true national (and internation) endorsement body for all Buddhist Chaplains, particularly those chaplains whose own Buddhist groups do not support or offer endosement.

How Do I Qualify for BCE Endorsement?

  • BCE endorsed Chaplains are required to ordained at least at the level of Novice Buddhist Priest: either the Chaplain will be required to show proof of such Buddhist ordination, or will need to qualify for such ordination by FMZO
  • Applicants must have a minimum of two years activity in a ministerial role as a member of Buddhist Sangha in a recognized Buddhist tradition of practice.
  • Applicants must have completed a baccalaureate degree of not less than 120 semester hours at a recognized college or university.
  • Applicants must have either completed a Masters of Divinity that included specific education in Buddhism and/or Chaplaincy/Pastoral Care, or they must show proof of enrollment in an MA or MDiv program approved by BCE.Alternative education and training will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
  • Ministerial Fitness: All applicants are required to provide letters of
    recommendation from his/her Sangha leader and at least one of the following: a CPE Supervisor, Academic Advisor and/or Psychotherapist in support of his/her ministerial fitness.
  • BCE requires that each applicant observes the values of diversity and respects beliefs and religions while practicing and maintaining an active role as a Buddhist cleric. BCE reserves the right to withdraw standing.
  • Further, to become and to remain an endorsed BCE Chaplain the candidate must maintain active membership of a Buddhist community, be an actively practicing Buddhist, and either be employed as a chaplain or actively seeking such work.
  • Chaplains are required to report to the BCE Abbot of Chaplaincy the moment they no longer meet one of these requirements and are made aware that this may result in the withdrawal of BCE endorsement.
  • Applicants are also required to successfully pass a background check and to satisfactorily fill out a document attesting to their history of good conduct befitting a Buddhist Chaplain, endorsed by BCE.

In addition, for APC endorsement as a board certified, provisional chaplain, or associate chaplain the following are required:

  1. Successful completion of the minimum number of CPE units required for the level of certification.
  2. Copies of the letters of recommendations needed by the APC for the level of certification.
  3. Nomination by one or more members of the BCE Chaplaincy Leadership




Ven. Jinhye Songdo (Rev Dr Tim Langdell) Divisional Abbot

What is Chaplaincy?

There is a wide variety of different types of chaplaincy:

  • Hospital/Healthcare Chaplaincy
  • Hospice & Palliaitive Care Chaplaincy
  • Military Chaplaincy
  • Prison Chaplaincy
  • Professional and Business Chaplaincy
  • Disaster Relief Chaplaincy

Chaplaincy is at its core an interfaith (or no-faith) ministry of presence. While it is possible for a chaplain to be called upon to visit with a patient, inmate, worker, etc, of their own tradition, more often than not chaplaincy is about ministering to a person of a different tradition (or no tradition) by meeting them where they are, offering a non-anxious, non-judgmental supportive presence. In many ways, Buddhist chaplains can thus make excellent interfaith chaplains since it is familar to Buddhist practice to be in the moment as a non-judgmental presence -- practicing "don't know mind" or beginner's mind.

Chaplancy Supported by BCE

At this time BCE is not specifically supporting Military or Prison chaplaincy, but if you are interested in pursuing such chaplaincy careers and are seeking endorsement, then please do write to us. However, for all other kinds of chaplaincy, BCE is currently offering endosement, education and support.

Chaplain Education

Through BCE's association with FMZO and Buddha Dharma University, we have a complete program of Buddhist Chaplaincy training as well as classes in a wide variety of Buddhist topics. Indeed, if in reviewing your application we believe you would benefit from taking some BDU classes prior to being able to offer endorsement, we will draw this to your attention.

Become Part of a Vibrant Buddhist Chaplain Comminity

Everyone who is endorsed by BCE will become a part of the BCE community, and by association also a part of the wider FMZO and BDU communities too. You will gain access to community forums and private FaceBook communities supported by BCE where you will be able to find further information about Buddhist Chaplaincy, benefit from the support and camaraderie of your fellow Buddhist Chaplains, and partake of one of the richest Chaplaincy Resources.

Benefit From a Dedicated Mentor

As a member of BCE, if endorsed you will be assigned a mentor from the BCE core Senior Chaplain team, who will help guide you through the process to certification as a Board Certificated Chaplain. You will be required to show evidence you meet with your own teacher on at least a monthly basis, or if not you will meet with your BCE mentor monthly. You will also have a formal check-in with your BCE mentor once a year for renewal of your BCE membership and renewal of your endorsement.

Costs and Fees

BCE is committed to keeping costs and fees to a minimum. You may become a member of BCE even prior to gaining BCE endorsement: the fee is $50 per annum, and as a member you will have access to BCE resources. Application for endorsement is $50 and includes your first year's membership of BCE. If endorsed, then there is a $75 per annum fee to renew your endorsement each year, which includes renewal of your BCE membership, too. Once you achieve Board Certification, your fee will rise to $150 per annum for both annual endorsement renewal and BCE membership. In addition, when you apply for endorsement there is a $100 one-time fee for a background check.





Interested? Click here to start your application process.

Or click here to ask questions or make inquiries.