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Department of Defense


NUMBER 1304.28

June 11, 2004


SUBJECT:  Guidance for the Appointment of Chaplains for the Military Departments

References:  (a)  DoD Directive 1304.19, "Appointment of Chaplains for the Military Departments," June 11, 2004

(b)  Sections 533(a)(1), 643, 827, 3353(a)(1), 5600(a)(1) of title 10, United States Code

(c)  Assistant Secretary of Defense (Force Management Policy) Memorandum, "Educational Requirements for Military Chaplain Applicants," April 2, 2002 (hereby canceled)

(d)  Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness) Memorandum, "Assignment of Chaplains for Military Service," October 14, 2003 (hereby canceled)

(e)  through (i), see enclosure 1


This Instruction:

1.1.  Implements reference (a) and Section 643 of reference (b).

1.2.  Cancels reference (c),  (d), and DD Form 2741, "Department of Defense Ecclesiastical Endorsing Organization Verification/Reverification Information."

1.3.  Assigns responsibilities appointing chaplains for the Military Departments and identifies the educational and ecclesiastical requirements for appointment of military chaplains.

1.4.  Modifies requirements and procedures for Religious Organizations to endorse religious ministry professionals for the chaplaincy.

1.5.  Implements and establishes the criteria and procedures for the administrative separation and loss of professional qualifications of chaplains of the Military Departments.


This Instruction applies to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Military Departments, (including the Coast Guard when it is operating as a Military Service in the Navy) the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Combatant Commands, the Defense Agencies, the DoD Field Activities, and all other organizational entities in the Department of Defense (hereafter referred to collectively as the "DoD Components").  The term "Military Departments," as used herein, refers to the Department of the Army, the Department of the Navy, and the Department of the Air Force.  The term "Military Services" as used herein refers to the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and the Marine Corps.


Terms used in this Instruction are defined in enclosure 2.


This Instruction implements policy established in reference (a).  The guidance in enclosure 3 shall apply.


5.1.  The Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness shall develop overall policy for the appointment of chaplains to the Military Departments, establish professional qualification requirements for chaplains, and shall ensure Religious Organizations endorsing Religious Ministry Professionals (RMPs) to serve as military chaplains shall maintain all requirements as prescribed in enclosure 3.

5.2.  The Secretaries of the Military Departments shall adhere to DoD policy in sections 4. and 6. of this Instruction to ensure that persons appointed as chaplains meet the minimum professional and educational qualifications prescribed in this Instruction.  The Secretaries of the Military Departments may impose additional professional requirements.


6.1.  To be considered for appointment to serve as a chaplain, an RMP shall receive an endorsement from a qualified Religious Organization verifying:

6.1.1.  The RMP is a fully qualified RMP of a Religious Organization that meets the administrative requirements of this Instruction.

6.1.2.  An RMP's application shall include the endorsement of the person's ecclesiastical credentials on a DD Form 2088, "Statement of Ecclesiastical Endorsement," (enclosure 6).  If a Religious Organization has not previously endorsed military chaplains, it shall file the administrative documents required by enclosure 3 in conjunction with the endorsement of its first fully qualified RMP in an application for appointment as a chaplain for a Military Department.  The Armed Forces Chaplains Board (AFCB) shall accept the required documents only when the applicable Military Department has determined the RMP is fully qualified in all ways other than ecclesiastical endorsement.  The AFCB shall notify the Military Departments of Religious Organizations that have filed the prerequisite documents and whose packets have been found administratively complete.  The Military Departments may evaluate RMPs from Religious Organizations that are submitting the administrative filing requirements for the first time and are pending determination of the fully qualified status of their prospective chaplain.  The Military Departments shall consult with the AFCB to determine if the administrative requirements are pending acceptance in such cases.

6.1.3.  The RMP is willing to function in a pluralistic environment as defined in this Instruction and to support directly and indirectly the free exercise of religion by all members of the Military Services, their family members, and other persons authorized to be served by the military chaplaincies.

6.1.4.  The RMP has 2 years of religious leadership experience for an active component appointment.  Religious leadership experience shall be compatible with the duties of RMPs in their respective Religious Organization and relevant to the settings of military chaplaincy.

6.1.5.  The RMP is educationally qualified for appointment as a chaplain.  The educationally qualified applicant shall possess a baccalaureate degree with not less than 120 semester hours (180 quarter hours) from a qualifying educational institution.  The educationally qualified applicant shall also possess a post-baccalaureate graduate degree in the field of theological or related studies from a qualifying educational institution.  A qualifying graduate degree program shall require no fewer than 72 semester hours (108 quarter hours) of graduate-level work.  Related studies may include graduate courses in pastoral counseling, social work, religious administration, and similar disciplines when one-half of the earned graduate credits include topics in general religion, world religions, the practice of religion, theology, religious philosophy, religious ethics, and/or the foundational writings from the applicant's religious tradition.

6.2.  A qualifying RMP-producing educational institution is an accredited college, university, or school of theology listed in the current edition of the American Council on Education (ACE), Accredited Institutions of Post-secondary Education and relevant ACE supplements to that publication (reference (e)), or any unaccredited institution that meets the requirements of subparagraphs 6.2.1. through 6.2.4., below.

6.2.1.  An unaccredited educational institution may obtain designation as a qualifying RMP-producing educational institution for a specific applicant to the chaplaincy who graduated from that educational institution by providing certification from registrars at three accredited educational institutions that maintain programs for the preparation of clergy.  Each registrar shall certify that his or her educational institution would have accepted at least 90 percent of the credit hours earned and courses leading to the awarding of the post-graduate degree in theological or related studies earned by that applicant at the unaccredited educational institution, as of the year of graduation.

6.2.2.  An unaccredited educational institution may be designated as a qualified RMP-producing educational institution by providing the AFCB certification from the registrars of three different accredited educational institutions that maintain programs for the preparation of RMPs.  Each registrar shall certify the list of the major areas of study that that educational institution would accept at least 90 percent of the credit hours earned by a student who is awarded a post-graduate degree in theological or related studies at the unaccredited educational institution.  A designation as a qualified RMP-producing educational institution may apply to any year in which the unaccredited educational institution produced graduates or the institution may request this designation for a period of up to 5 years.  The unaccredited educational institution shall submit the required documentation no later than the beginning of the academic year if designation for future years is sought.  Applications for renewal of this status shall be for periods not to exceed 5 years.

6.2.3.  The required documentation shall be submitted to the AFCB.  The AFCB shall review and approve the documentation for completeness prior to forwarding to the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Military Personnel Policy for inclusion on the list of qualifying educational institutions for Reserve Officers.  The required documentation shall be sent to the following:  Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, ATTN:  OUSD(P&R)MPP-AFCB, 4000 Defense Pentagon (Room 2E341), Washington, DC 20301-4000.

6.2.4.  Applications containing the required documentation may also be submitted at any time from unaccredited educational institutions requesting designation as a qualifying educational institution for prior school years.

6.3.  A new DD Form 2088 shall be required at each change of career status, as defined by the Military Departments, to re-endorse the qualifications of the chaplain concerned.

6.4.  Requirements for applicants for the chaplaincy:

6.4.1.  Applicants for appointment as a chaplain shall meet physical standards in accordance with DoD Directive 6130.3 (reference (f)) and be otherwise qualified to serve as a commissioned officer in accordance with reference (b) and DoD Directive 1310.2 (reference (g)).

6.4.2.  Applicants shall affirm that, if appointed, they shall abide by applicable laws, and all applicable regulations, directives, and instructions of the Department of Defense and the Military Department that the appointment is made.

6.5.  Administrative separation of chaplains upon loss of professional qualifications.  If a chaplain loses ecclesiastical authority to function as an RMP or has ecclesiastical endorsement to serve as a chaplain withdrawn, the appropriate Religious Organization shall provide written notification to the Military Department concerned.  Processing for separation in accordance with Section 643 of reference (b) shall be initiated immediately upon such notification.  This Instruction does not preclude separation in accordance with other regulations of the Military Department concerned (i.e., when separation for reasons other than loss of ecclesiastical endorsement is appropriate).

6.5.1.  When a separation action is initiated under this Instruction, the chaplain shall be notified in writing of the following:  The chaplain has a right to consult with military counsel or with civilian counsel obtained at no expense to the Government, and to submit statements in response to the notice.  The chaplain has lost ecclesiastical endorsement.  Under conditions established by the Secretary of the Military Department concerned, the chaplain may:  Seek another ecclesiastical endorsement within the time frame allotted by the Military Department involved.  Apply for non-chaplain duties with the understanding that the officer shall be discharged voluntarily as a chaplain on one day and appointed in a non-chaplain capacity on the next day.  Apply for voluntary retirement, if eligible for such retirement; or  Tender a voluntary resignation.

6.5.2.  If a request is not submitted under subparagraph, above, or if such a request is disapproved, the chaplain shall be separated with an appropriate discharge.  Chaplains of the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard shall not be administratively separated without the consent of the Governor of the State or territory or his or her designated representative.  The chaplain shall be provided a reasonable period of time consistent with the policies of the Military Department that the chaplain serves to respond to the notice.  If the chaplain states that action under subparagraph, above, is requested, the chaplain shall be notified in writing of the date and manner by which such request shall be submitted.  If the chaplain does not respond to the notice in a timely manner, separation processing shall be completed in accordance with subparagraph 6.5.3., below.

6.5.3.  The Secretary of the Military Department concerned may:  Approve a request for a new ecclesiastical endorsement for a serving chaplain submitted in accordance with this Instruction; or  Approve a voluntary resignation, if tendered, and direct an appropriate discharge; or  Approve a voluntary retirement, if requested by an eligible applicant; or  Approve a request for assignment to non-chaplain duties through voluntary resignation and appointment in accordance with regulations implementing Chapters 36 or 1205 of reference (b); or  Direct an appropriate discharge if an action in subparagraph, above, is not requested and/or approved.

6.6.  Visits of Endorsing Agents to military installations in overseas areas are encouraged to enhance the spiritual welfare of military personnel, particularly at seasons of special religious significance.

6.6.1.  Such visits shall keep the religious organization aware of the ministry of the organization's chaplains and the spiritual and religious activities of the military community and permit Ecclesiastical Endorsing Agents to maintain their professional relationships with endorsed chaplains.

6.6.2.  Such visits shall be at the discretion of the commander(s) of the installations involved.

6.6.3.  The Ecclesiastical Endorsing Agents who visit installations representing their Religious Organizations shall do so at no expense to the Government.  The Ecclesiastical Endorsing Agent shall be afforded protocol privileges appropriate to those of a civilian employee in the grade of GS-15.

6.6.4.  The Military Departments may establish procedures governing the visits of Ecclesiastical Endorsing Agents to overseas installations.  The AFCB may provide administrative assistance in arranging such visits.

6.7.  The chaplain candidate programs exist within the Military Departments for the purpose of familiarizing graduate students of religion with religious support activities in the military environment.  Participants in this program serve as commissioned officers in the Reserve components of the Military Departments.  Chaplain candidates are not authorized to serve as or in place of chaplains.

6.7.1.  Upon successful completion of their academic and religious training, participants in the Chaplain Candidate Programs may seek appointment as chaplains.

6.7.2.  Each Military Department is responsible for implementing this program in accordance with Department-specific policies and regulations.

6.7.3.  At a minimum, applicants and participants in the Chaplain Candidate Program shall:  Be approved by a Religious Organization recognized as able to provide ecclesiastical endorsements for chaplains in accordance with the provisions of this Instruction.  Be a matriculated student in graduate-level degree-granting religious studies programs of qualifying educational institutions.  Such programs and institutions shall comply with criteria in paragraph 6.2. of this Instruction for educational requirements for Chaplains.  Subparagraph 6.2.1. of this Instruction does not apply for chaplain candidates.  Be able to complete educational, ecclesiastical, and professional experience requirements for appointment as chaplains prior to reaching the age limitation for such original appointments, as established by the Military Department to which the applicant is applying.  Be able to meet all other appointment eligibility criteria of the Military Department to which the applicant is applying.


This Instruction is effective immediately.

Signed by:  Charles S. Abell, Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness

Enclosures - 6

E1.  References, continued

E2.  Definitions

E3.  Administrative Filing Requirements for a Religious Organization Desiring to Endorse Religious Ministry Professionals for the Military Chaplaincy

E4.  Format for Providing Required Information to Meet Administrative Requirements to Endorse Chaplains to the Military Departments

E5.  Format for Providing Required Information to Endorse RMPs as Chaplains to the Military Departments

E6.  DD Form 2088, "Statement of Ecclesiastical Endorsement"


REFERENCES, continued

(e)  American Council on Education, "Accredited Institutions of Post Secondary Education," current edition

(f)  DoD Directive 6130.3, "Physical Standards for Appointment, Enlistment, and Induction," December 15, 2000

(g)  DoD Directive 1310.2, "Appointing Commissioned Officers," May 28, 1996

(h)  DoD Directive 5120.8, "Armed Forces Chaplains Board Charter," March 20, 1995

(i)  Section 501(c)(3) of the title 26, United States Code (Internal Revenue Code)



E2.1.  TERMS

Terms used in this Instruction are defined as follows:

E2.1.1.  Change of Career Status.  Includes, but is not limited to, initial application for the chaplaincy, change from Reserve to active status or the opposite, and extension on active duty beyond the initial obligated period of service.  This term is further defined by the various Military Services.  A change of career status requires endorsement or re-endorsement by the Religious Organization endorsing the chaplain.

E2.1.2.  Chaplain.  A commissioned officer of the Chaplain Corps of the Army, a commissioned officer of the Chaplain Corps of the Navy, or a commissioned officer in the Air Force designated for duty as a chaplain.

E2.1.3.  Counsel.  A lawyer qualified under Section 827 of title 10, United States Code (Article 27(b)(1) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice) (reference (b)) or a civilian lawyer retained at no expense to the Government.

E2.1.4.  Ecclesiastical.  The forms and practices related to Religious Organizations.

E2.1.5.  Ecclesiastical Endorsement.  Written documentation from a Religious Organization that complies with the administrative requirements of this Instruction that an applicant for the military chaplaincy is fully and professionally qualified and endorsed to perform all offices, functions, sacraments, ordinances, and ceremonies required of a RMP for that Religious Organization, and is capable and authorized to minister as required within a pluralistic environment.

E2.1.6.  Ecclesiastical Endorsing Agent.  An individual authorized to provide or withdraw Ecclesiastical Endorsements on behalf of a Religious Organization.

E2.1.7.  Endorsement.  The internal process that Religious Organizations use when designating RMPs to represent their Religious Organizations to the Military Departments and confirm the ability of their RMPs to conduct religious observances or ceremonies in a military context.

E2.1.8.  Pluralistic Environment.  A descriptor of the military context of ministry.  A plurality of religious traditions exist side-by-side in the military.

E2.1.9.  Religious Ministry Professional (RMP).  An individual endorsed to represent a Religious Organization and to conduct its religious observances or ceremonies.  An RMP is a fully qualified member of the clergy for those Religious Organizations that have a tradition of professional clergy or their equivalents.  The Religious Organization's endorsement verifies that an RMP is professionally qualified to serve as a chaplain in the military and meets the graduate education and religious leadership requirements of this Instruction.

E2.1.10.  Religious Organization.  An entity that is organized and functions primarily to perform religious ministries to a non-military lay constituency and that has met the religious purposes test of Section 501(c)(3) of title 26, United States Code (reference (i)), and holds current status as a Section 501(c)(3) Schedule "A" organization.  Religious Organizations possess ecclesiastical authority to endorse and withdraw endorsement for Religious Ministry Professionals serving under their authority.

E2.1.11.  Separation.  Discharge or retirement from military service.



E3.1.1.  Religious Organizations that choose to participate in the Military Chaplaincies recognize the chaplaincies of the Military Departments serve a religiously diverse population and that military commanders are required to provide comprehensive religious support to all authorized individuals within their areas of responsibility.  Religious Organizations participating in the military chaplaincies therefore express willingness for their RMPs to perform their professional duties as Chaplains in cooperation with Chaplains from other religious traditions and that:

E3.1.1.1.  Chaplains shall wear the appropriate insignia in accordance with uniform regulations of their respective Military Services.

E3.1.1.2.  The Religious Organization shall complete and maintain all administrative requirements of this Instruction (enclosure 3) as a prerequisite to being able to endorse applicants for the chaplaincies.

E3.1.1.3.  Endorsement by a Religious Organization meeting the administrative qualifications of this Instruction (enclosure 3) is an essential element of a chaplain's professional qualifications.  A chaplain whose endorsement is withdrawn shall be processed for separation in accordance with paragraph 6.5.

E3.1.2.  A Religious Organization desiring to provide an RMP to serve as a chaplain in the Military Departments shall meet the administrative filing requirements of this Instruction and maintain the required information for that purpose on file with the Department of Defense.  The Religious Organization shall submit the required documentation to the AFCB in the format specified in enclosure 4.  Submission of the required documents may be made through secure and verified electronic media.  The Religious Organization shall be able to submit documents to permit endorsement of chaplains for the first time only when they are endorsing a fully and professionally qualified candidate, without requirement for waivers of the standards specified by the applicable Military Department.  See paragraph 6.1.

E3.1.3.  The Religious Organization shall submit documents verifying the following information with regard to such organization:

E3.1.3.1.  That the Religious Organization is organized as an entity functioning primarily to perform religious ministries to a non-military lay constituency and currently holds a Section 501(c)(3) exempt status (reference (i)) as a church for Federal tax purposes from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) (note "church" is used by the IRS not to denote a belief system, but to distinguish "churches" from other types of religious organizations; see IRS Instructions for Form 1023 Schedule A).  Such rules stipulate that the particular religious beliefs of the organization are truly and sincerely held and that the practices and rituals associated with the organization's religious belief or creed are not illegal or contrary to clearly defined public policy.  In order to determine whether a particular Religious Organization has properly acquired, and currently maintains, an IRS tax exempt status and does not engage in practices that are illegal or contrary to defined public policy, the USD(PR) shall take appropriate steps to verify with the DoD Components and other Federal Agencies compliance with these requirements.

E3.1.3.2.  That it possesses ecclesiastical authority to grant and withdraw initial and subsequent ecclesiastical endorsement for ministry in the Armed Forces.

E3.1.3.3.  That it verifies the Religious Organization shall provide chaplains who shall function in a pluralistic environment, as defined in this Instruction, and who shall support directly and indirectly the free exercise of religion by all members of the Military Services, their family members, and other persons authorized to be served by the military chaplaincies.

E3.1.3.4.  That it agrees to abide by all DoD Directives, Instructions, and other guidance and with Military Department regulations and policies on the qualification and endorsement of RMPs for service as military chaplains.

E3.1.4.  The Religious Organization shall supply the name, title, mailing address, electronic contact, the Employer Identification Number assigned to the organization by the IRS, and telephone number of the agent authorized to represent the Religious Organization to the Military Departments to include authority to grant and withdraw ecclesiastical endorsements.  This agent may not be a currently serving military Chaplain (active duty, National Guard, or Reserve).

E3.1.5.  A Religious Organization shall immediately notify the AFCB when changes occur in the status of the organization, designated endorsing agent, or the contact addresses and telephone numbers of either.

E3.1.6.  A Religious Organization shall re-verify that it meets the requirements in paragraph E3.1.2., above, if chaplains endorsed by it are unable to gain re-endorsement at times of change of career status.

E3.1.7.  Religious Organizations that are currently able to endorse RMPs for Military Service as chaplains under earlier versions of this Instruction may continue to endorse RMPs as long as they continue to meet the requirements in effect when they originally began to endorse RMPs for the military chaplaincies.  Such organizations shall affirm in writing to the AFCB by January 31st of each year that they continue to meet such requirements.  This provision applies equally to Religious Organizations that endorse chaplains directly to the Department of Defense through an embedded endorsing organization; Religious Organizations that, under previous versions of this Instruction, were extended the privileges of endorsing chaplains through representation by external endorsing organizations; and larger organizations that have acted on behalf of member Religious Organizations.

E3.1.8.  By January 31st of each year, each Religious Organization shall provide to the AFCB a complete list of Chaplains endorsed for military chaplaincy.  Chaplains shall be listed alphabetically by name and Military Department.

E3.1.9.  In accordance with DoD Directive 5120.8 (reference (h)), the AFCB shall inform Religious Organizations that endorse Chaplains that they no longer meet the administrative requirements of paragraphs E3.1.2. through E3.1.5., above, and may no longer endorse Chaplains for Military Service.  Before taking such action, the AFCB shall give written notice stating the reasons for lack of compliance and shall allow the Religious Organization concerned a reasonable opportunity to provide a written reply that shall be carefully considered in making a final decision.  Review of administrative compliance may be initiated if the Religious Organization fails to respond to requests by endorsed chaplains for assistance or re-endorsement at times of change of career status or if the AFCB cannot contact the Religious Organization in a reasonable period of time.  Religious Organizations informed that they may no longer endorse chaplains due to lack of administrative compliance may resubmit their required documents.  The AFCB shall not review the compliance of a Religious Organization with reference (a) and this Instruction again until the Religious Organization completes all administrative requirements.  If a Religious Organization is no longer able to endorse chaplains under this Instruction, all ecclesiastical endorsements issued by that Organization shall be considered withdrawn.  Serving chaplains endorsed by that Organization shall be considered to have had their endorsements revoked (paragraph 6.5. applies).



E4.1.1.  Religious Organizations desiring to endorse RMPs to the military to serve as military chaplains shall forward written notification of such intent to the AFCB in accordance with paragraph E3.1.2., above.

E4.1.1.1.  The written notification may be submitted through traditional hard copy or secure electronic means with verifiable signature.

E4.1.1.2.  The written notification shall be submitted on organization letterhead or from an official electronic account capable of secure electronic signature.

E4.1.1.3.  The written notification shall include, at a minimum, a statement that meets the requirements of paragraph E3.1.3. and provides the following information in the following order:

E4.  Name of organization.

E4.  Address of organization.

E4.  Name, address, telephonic, and electronic contact for endorsing official.

E4.  Statement verifying ability of the designated endorsing official to endorse and withdraw endorsement of candidates and Chaplains.

E4.  Statement verifying the Religious Organization shall immediately notify the AFCB when changes occur in the status of the organization, designated endorsing agents, or the contact addresses and telephone numbers of either.

E4.  Signature of responsible official with authority to make such statements on behalf of the organization.

E4.1.1.4.  The written statement shall include as enclosures verification of current status as an IRS Section 501(c)(3) exempt organization in accordance with subparagraph E3.1.3.1., above, the Employer Identification Number assigned to the organization by the IRS, and all other enclosures to support this status.



E5.1.1.  Religious Organizations submitting required documentation of their first fully qualified RMP to a specific Military Department shall forward the applicant's documentation in accordance with paragraph 6.1. of this Instruction.  The written documentation shall, at a minimum include:

E5.1.1.1.  Application for Appointment:  DA Form 61; AF Form 24/Addendum; Navy:  NC1100/11.

E5.1.1.2.  Application for Active Duty: DA Form 160; AF Form 125, EAD Application (AF Reserve/Guard; Navy Reserve Recall:  NP1131/5.

E5.1.1.3.  Application Letter requesting Appointment by applicant; (Navy:  include in form of applicant "Motivational Statement" if not included in NC1100/11).

E5.1.1.4.  Official copy of each Undergraduate and Graduate Transcript.

E5.1.1.5.  Statement verifying date of latest National Agency Check or check in progress; SF Form 86, Questionnaire for Security Positions.

E5.1.1.6.  Standard Form 88 (Navy: DD2808), Report of Medical Examination and SF Form 93- Report of Medical History (Certified true copies; Navy:  DD2807-1); DD Form 2807-2 Medical Pre-screen-AF.

E5.1.1.7.  DD Form 368 Conditional Release.

E5.1.1.8.  All OPRs/OMPF microfiche or copies of DD Form 214, NGB Form 22, OERs, etc.

E5.1.1.9.  Official Photograph; or full body photo.

E5.1.1.10.  Birth Certificate and Driver's license.

E5.1.1.11.  Credit Check AETC Form 1325-AF.

E5.1.1.12.  Chaplain Interview-Army, Navy:  NC1100/13; 3 to 5 Letters of Recommendation-AF; Navy:  minimum of 3 letters.

E5.1.1.13.  Family Member Information Document (Typed on plain bond paper; Biography/Resume).

E5.1.1.14.  Certificate of Ecclesiastical Endorsement; Ordination Certificate.



DD Form 2088, Statement of Ecclesiastical Endorsement