Friday, March 15, 2024

Becoming a Chaplain: From ULC Ordination to BCCI Certification

Chaplains play a vital role in providing spiritual support and guidance to individuals in various settings, such as hospitals, schools, prisons, and the military. If you're interested in pursuing a career as a chaplain, the journey begins with ordination and can lead to professional certification. This blog post will guide you through the process of becoming ordained through the Universal Life Church (ULC) in Modesto, California, and outline the steps toward becoming Board of Chaplaincy Certification International (BCCI) certified.

Step 1: Ordination by the Universal Life Church

The first step in becoming a chaplain is to get ordained. The Universal Life Church (ULC) offers online ordination that is quick, easy, and free. To become ordained through the ULC, follow these steps:

  1. Visit the ULC Website: Go to the official ULC website (
  2. Fill Out the Ordination Form: Complete the online ordination form with your personal information.
  3. Submit Your Application: Once you submit your application, you'll be ordained as a minister of the ULC. You'll receive an official ordination certificate, which you can use to perform various religious ceremonies and services. 

Note that only the Universal Life Church based out of Modesto, California, at the address above, is able to endorse people for BCCI certification. 

Step 2: Pursue the Required Education

After becoming ordained, the next step is to pursue the required education for chaplaincy. Most chaplain positions require a Master's degree in a relevant field, such as divinity, theology, pastoral counseling, or religious studies. Some chaplaincy programs may also require Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), which provides hands-on training in providing spiritual care.

Step 3: Gain Experience

Experience is crucial in the field of chaplaincy. Many certification bodies, including the BCCI, require a certain number of hours of professional chaplaincy experience. This experience can be gained through internships, volunteer work, or employment as a chaplain in various settings like hospitals, schools, or military institutions.

Step 4: Obtain BCCI Certification

The Board of Chaplaincy Certification International (BCCI) is a leading certification body for professional chaplains. To become BCCI certified, candidates must meet the following requirements:

  • Education: A Master's degree in a relevant field, as mentioned earlier.
  • Experience: A minimum of 2,000 hours of work experience in a chaplaincy role.
  • Endorsement: Endorsement by a recognized religious or spiritual organization. Your ULC ordination and an additional endorsement from the ULC headquarters in Modesto, California, can fulfill this requirement.
  • Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE): Completion of four units of CPE, which is typically a requirement for professional chaplaincy positions.
  • Pass the Certification Exam: The BCCI administers a certification exam that tests your knowledge and skills in chaplaincy.

Step 5: Maintain Certification

Once you are BCCI certified, you'll need to maintain your certification through continuing education and adherence to the BCCI's ethical standards. This typically involves completing a certain number of continuing education units (CEUs) every few years.


Becoming a chaplain is a rewarding path that allows you to provide spiritual support and guidance to those in need. Starting with ordination through the Universal Life Church in Modesto, California, and progressing through education, experience, and certification, you can embark on a fulfilling career as a certified chaplain. Remember to check the specific requirements of the BCCI and other certification bodies, as they may vary.

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