Update from the COMISS Network Forum

Report from the January COMISS Network Forum in Arlingon, VA

COMISS is a network of professional organizations concerning chaplaincy. It includes professional chaplain organizations, chaplain certifying organizations and organizations that train chaplains. COMISS is the sponsor of the annual pastoral care week, which occurs in October of every year. It also has a commission that acreditates training organizations/sites.

Report from the January COMISS Network Forum in Arlingon, VA

COMISS is a network of professional organizations concerning chaplaincy. It includes professional chaplain organizations, chaplain certifying organizations and organizations that train chaplains. COMISS is the sponsor of the annual pastoral care week, which occurs in October of every year. It also has a commission that acreditates training organizations/sites.

AAIDD has been a member of the COMISS network through dues paid by the Religion and Spirituality Division. This year The Rev. Rosemarie Newberry attended as our representative. There are several benefits to being active and participating in COMISS. First, it is the one place where the profession of chaplaincy is discussed, no matter what the specialty. Chaplains with the specialty of developmental disabilities should and need to be at the table. Also, many chaplains forget that people with disabilities need and have the right to chaplain care. Being at the table keeps that discussion on disabilities alive. The work from The Rev. Bill Gaventa has opened the door of acceptance of being at the table. Thank you, Bill.

The current concern is regarding the start up of our certifying process for chaplains with a specialty in developmental disabilities. We can learn and model from the other certifying organizations. The major certifying organization is through the Board of Certified Chaplains. The rigor of the BCC process is daunting and should be an independent of accrediting a specialty. They admit that they do not have enough people on their board of examiners to support specialties. They are certifying generalists and not specialists. It is something that they are concerned about and scratch their heads on. There are professional organizations for mental health and pediatric specialties. And the Veteran Affairs Chaplains are starting to develop specialties in PTSD and traumatic brain injury.

The profession of chaplaincy recognizes that there are many specialties for chaplaincy; beyond military and hospital, which are the two largest groups. It is still evolving as generalist organizations consider or abandon specialty certifications. For the careers of chaplains, certification is an important item to put on their resume. Employers and some church organizations are looking to differentiate chaplains. Certification does that. And specialty is needed as well as general certification.

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