Missions & Outreach  »  Canadian Forces Chaplaincy  »  Guidelines

LCC Military Chaplaincy Guidelines


  1. These Guidelines are in conformity with the doctrine and practice of Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC). Their aim is to assist LCC pastors ministering to the Canadian Forces (CF) in better understanding their role and the expectations placed on them.  Chaplains will receive their endorsement and Divine Call from the Council of Presidents (COP) of LCC who are in the most adequate position to represent the various aspects of LCC's common vision. The ministry of Chaplains is comparable to the ministry of missionaries of LCC.
  2. Chaplains serve both as members of the CF under the authority of the state and as missionaries under the authority of the Church. According to the Lutheran theology of the two kingdoms, chaplains are operating in the structure of the state, under the authority of the Law, to help maintain justice and freedom in God's creation.  As commissioned officers, chaplains obey rightful laws and orders.[1]  As missionaries, chaplains are a leaven to administer the Gospel and serve the people entrusted to their care with the kind of love Christ exemplified.  In a secularized society this ministry is increasingly an evangelistic ministry of Word and witness to the hope of the Gospel rather than one comparable to a parish Pastor; yet by virtue of their ordination and call, the ministry of chaplains is the same ministry of Word and Sacrament as defined by the book of Concord and applied by the LCC handbook. Therefore, LCC chaplains will be particularly careful not to compromise their ordination vows and confessional convictions while serving in a largely non-Lutheran environment.
  3. Military chaplains serve in an increasingly pluralistic environment reflecting the composition of our country. Pastors willing to work in this environment, particularly those with a missionary heart and a willingness to sacrifice themselves for others are needed by the CF to provide pastoral care, spiritual leadership, and religious support for the military community. There are many marvellous opportunities to minister to the unchurched in their ministry. Chaplains are and should be instruments in nourishing those who are members of the Body of Christ and in winning souls for God's kingdom.  LCC's principal reason for having chaplains in the CF is to proclaim the Gospel, administer the sacraments, and provide for the spiritual care of military members, Department of National Defence (DND) civilian employees and their families. Chaplains are asked to minister to their own (i.e. LCC Lutherans), facilitate the worship of others, and care for all.
  4. Although chaplains usually minister in ordinary circumstances, they may be asked to minister in extraordinary circumstances, both at home and abroad. The members they serve may be in Canada today, but deployed anywhere around the world tomorrow. They may be the last ones to offer the hope and comfort of the Gospel of Christ to those they serve, and are expected to minister with integrity, especially in situations that may require pastoral discretion.


  1. LCC pastors may apply to the CF to serve as chaplains in Regular or Reserve Forces.
  2. Candidates applying to serve in the CF must receive the ecclesiastical recommendation of their District President. This recommendation ensures that there is no ecclesiastical reason why they ought not to serve.
  3. Pastors receiving the recommendation of their District President shall be interviewed by the Committee for Missions and Social Ministry Services (CMSMS) as to their suitability for service in a missionary environment. The CMSMS includes a member who serves as Military Liaison (ML), but may ask a LCC member who has served or is serving in the CF to assist them in an interview.
  4. The CMSMS will recommend to the COP whether an applicant should be endorsed.
  5. Upon approval by the COP, the application of the candidate shall be forwarded to the Chaplain Branch of the CF via the Lutheran Council in Canada (LCIC) representative to the Interfaith Committee for Canadian Military Chaplaincy (ICCMC).
  6. LCC candidates would normally be commissioned as missionary chaplains upon successful completion of their Basic Chaplain Training. Until that time they would have the same status in the Church as other Candidates.
  7. The ML is to keep regular contact with chaplains serving in both the Regular and Reserve Forces. Pastoral visits will be made with LCC chaplains annually if possible and concerns shall be brought to the CMSMS. Chaplains will thereby be assured of the ongoing support and prayers of LCC.
  8. The Senior Lutheran Chaplain (SLC) is designated by the Chaplain Branch of the CF. The SLC will bring any concerns of any Lutheran chaplain to the Chaplain Branch, and where appropriate to the chaplain's denomination.  These concerns will normally come through the LCIC representative to the ICCMC.

    (At the present time the SLC is Capt Brad Busch ELCIC. The LCIC representative is Pastor Hans Borch, St. James ELCIC, Elmira, ON.)
  9. A summary of Chaplain activities is included in the CMSMS reports from LCC.

Norms for the Ministry of Chaplains

  1. The ministry of chaplains is concerned primarily with spiritual ministry, with major emphasis upon the proclamation/sharing of God's Word and of witness to the hope of the Gospel, counselling and personal contact (the cure of souls).  The administration of the sacraments will also play a very important role when ministering to our own.
  2. When leading Divine Services in chapel, the chaplain will preach Law and Gospel as applied to the audience and will let the Gospel predominate. While being flexible to the audience, services will be in the tradition of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.
  3. As long as a LCC chaplain is not directed to do anything contrary to the Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions, they are expected to follow orders and guidance from those who have legitimate authority over them.
  4. LCC chaplains shall represent our church body's confessional position and practices.
  5. LCC chaplains should be judicious when required to attend interfaith services. They must ask themselves whether God is glorified, the community is edified, and if our confession is not compromised.  Pluralism dictates that every chaplain has a right to worship according to his confession.  Accordingly, LCC chaplains will not formally participate in inter-faith or multi-faith worship rites or services as officiants and/or celebrants.
  6. This being said, LCC chaplains will participate in military ceremonies, parades, commemorations and other official military functions with chaplains of other faiths or denominations. They will be mindful of the multi-faith environment in which they minister, yet they will strive to proclaim the gospel of Christ clearly.  They will always offer Christian prayers while avoiding language offensive to those outside our faith and confession.
  7. LCC chaplains are to administer the Lord's Supper in accordance with the Scriptures, the Lutheran Confessions and the practices of our Church body. The 1999 document "Closed Communion in a Contemporary Context" provides guidance in this regard.  To that end, LCC chaplains shall announce before the service that it will be held in conformity with the rites, rubrics and practices of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.
  8. The LCC chaplain will not normally be a celebrant in any service other than a Lutheran Divine Service. The LCC chaplain will not distribute communion in services other than a Lutheran Divine Service.  He will not receive communion from pastors not in altar and pulpit fellowship with LCC.
  9. While all chaplains have the right to minister in accordance with the policies of their church bodies, in the CF they must cooperate with other chaplains who can fulfill denominational needs they are unable to meet.  So the LCC chaplain will tactfully facilitate the bringing in of chaplains or Civilian Officiating Clergy from other denominations or faiths to fulfill those requests (this mainly applies to Chapel Life Coordinators).
  10. Theological differences are accepted in the chaplaincy, but arrogance and uncooperativeness are unacceptable. The LCC chaplain's superiors need team players. The LCC chaplain will want to earn a place on that team by being loyal, creative, supportive, productive, enthusiastic, and willing to perform assigned tasks as professionally as possible.  If demands are made that run contrary to LCC's doctrinal positions or practices, an open discussion will often solve the problem.  If the issues cannot be resolved locally, the ML and the SLC should be consulted and called upon to try to resolve the situation.  When no resolution can be found at these levels, the chaplain should contact the respective District President for advice and support.
  11. LCC chaplains have a special responsibility for the spiritual welfare of Lutheran Military personnel, DND employees, and their families. They will make sure as much as possible that Lutheran ministry is provided to them:  confirmation instruction, Divine Services, cure of souls and pastoral care, etc... To that end, LCC pastors of congregations located nearby CF bases where no LCC military chaplains are stationed ought to be encouraged to be welcoming of LCC military personnel.
  12. In regard to confirmation, catechesis and baptism, it is incumbent upon our chaplains to strongly encourage Lutheran personnel to identify with local LCC congregations and yet offer a Lutheran ministry to those who prefer to worship on the military installation.
  13. Lutheran chaplains may be asked to participate in marriages and funerals. LCC's 2001 "Guidelines for Congregational and Pastoral Practice" provide guidance in this regard.
  14. Chaplains are expected to be as active at the Circuit, Conference, District and Synod level as possible.


CF  |  Canadian Forces

CMSMS  |  Committee for Missions and Social Ministry Services

COP  |  Council of Presidents

DND  |  Department of National Defence

ICCMC  |  Interfaith Committee for Canadian Military Chaplaincy

LCC  |  Lutheran Church–Canada

LCIC  |  Lutheran Council in Canada

ML  |  Military Liaison

SLC  |  Senior Lutheran Chaplain

[1] Luke 3:14; Romans 13:1-4; 1Peter 2:13-14; Acts 5:29.

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