For second-initiated ISKCON Vaishnavas who aspire to provide compassionate care and counseling within ISKCON congregations and outside ISKCON, as an interfaith lay chaplain.
What is endorsement?
An endorsement is a professional credential that tells a potential employer that a person in chaplaincy is or will be performing a valid ministry of the applicant’s religious tradition and has presented evidence of both calling and training for that ministry. Endorsement means that the candidate is a member or minister of a particular religious organization in good standing and has completed appropriate training for service as a chaplain. Endorsement creates an agreement or pledge of mutual commitment, accountability, and support between the chaplain and the faith group organization. It affirms a level of connection and standard of excellence demonstrated by the candidate to the agency where a chaplain will do his or her service.
Karuna Care Endorsement is the certification that permits a second-initiated Vaishnava to minister in specialized services outside the ISKCON institution as ISKCON’s representative. Moreover, receiving an endorsement informs others that a prospective chaplain is in good standing in his or her religious institution, and for ISKCON devotees that means prospective chaplains are in good standing with their spiritual masters, local ISKCON authorities, GBC representative, and that they are persons of integrity who are qualified to serve as a compassionate listening presence for those experiencing crisis.
Endorsement is required by virtually all government and private agencies that hire chaplains. It is also required in order to gain membership and certification in most professional chaplaincy associations. Some organizations require that the endorsement be updated periodically. Receiving an endorsement is a significant step toward achieving the highest levels of professional certification. ISKCON devotees wishing to be endorsed by ISKCON Communications in order to perform chaplaincy services must follow the process outlined below.
Endorsements are provided by a prospective chaplain’s faith group. Therefore the professional certifying organizations encourage religious groups to establish an endorsement procedure for those seeking certification for chaplaincy positions, pastoral counseling, or clinical pastoral education. Most professional organizations also encourage prospective chaplains to initiate a relationship with their Endorsement Committee early in their training so that they can receive from committee members guidance, discernment, and support. The declaration of endorsement includes the following criteria through a process that may include prospective chaplains writing papers, being interviewed, and sharing in mutual discernment. You will need to provide the committee with:
- A personal history paper.
- A written statement of faith
- Evidence of theological and practical ministry training
- Three (3) Letters of reference
- Evidence that one is in good standing and has accountability within ISKCON.
- Evidence of one’s ability to work collegially in diverse and pluralistic environments
- A written statement of willingness to adhere to the Code of Ethics prescribed by the Association of Professional Chaplains (www.professionalchaplains.org)
- A minimum of two (2) twelve-week semesters of Karuna Care Education.
A Letter of endorsement from the ISKCON Communications Endorsement Committee to a certifying body is continuous unless:
- The applicant has failed to successfully complete the clearance process of a site (hospital, hospice, prison, etc.) where the specialized service was to take place.
- There is a change in a chaplain’s membership status, level in his or her professional organization, or specialized service. If this happens, the candidate will need to request the ISKCON Communications Endorsement Committee for an updated endorsement letter.
- There is a change in the Vaishnava’s ISKCON affiliation or standing.
- The certifying body (Association for Professional Chaplains or other such body) requests a new letter.
- The chaplain receiving endorsement demonstrates an inability to uphold the standards outlined in the Common Code of Ethics for Chaplains, Professional Counselors, Pastoral Educators, and Students.
A validated specialized service shall
1. Demonstrate conformity to the mission of Srila Prabhupada, Lord Chaitanya, and the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya as it has been set forth in Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Sri Caitanya-Charitamrita, and the writings of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
2. Serve and aid others as well as to enable the service of others.
3. Give evidence of theologically informed fidelity to Krishna’s word as outlined in the books of ISKCON’s founder-acharya, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
4. Be conducted with a sense of accountability to the ISKCON Communications Endorsement Committee and any other organizations, agencies, and institutions served.
5. Include responsible participation in ISKCON’s deliberations, worship, and work and in the life of a local ISKCON temple congregation.
When second-initiated ISKCON Vaishnavas are called to a validated ministry beyond the jurisdiction of an ISKCON temple community or congregation, they shall
- Demonstrate that they have a quality of life helpful to sharing the mission and message of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu as taught and exemplified by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder-acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
- Participate in their local ISKCON temple community under the jurisdiction of the local temple president and GBC representative.
- Be held accountable by their local ISKCON authorities and live up to a high standard of Vaishnava etiquette in all their relationships in ISKCON and outside the institution.
- Have their endorsement suspended or revoked should they at any time misrepresent the principle of unconditional compassionate care (bhakti) as the primary guiding principle of ISKCON or should their behavior cause physical, emotional, or spiritual harm to those they are meant to serve.
- Have their endorsement suspended or revoked if they fail to live up to the Code of Ethics for Chaplains, Pastoral Counselors, Pastoral Educators, and Students.
Applicants for endorsement must
1. Be second-initiated in ISKCON and serving under the care of a spiritual master serving in ISKCON.
2. Have earned a Bhakti Shastri certificate.
3. Have completed a minimum of two semesters of supervised Karuna Care Education.
4. Be an active member in good-standing in their local ISKCON community.
5. Demonstrate through words and demeanor that they have sufficient compassion and emotional availability to act as a spiritual companion to suffering persons regardless of those person’s religious perspective or material circumstances. (This level of an applicant’s competence will be assessed by the ISKCON Communications Endorsement Committee through their application materials, references, and interview process.)
“Rambhoru (Karuna Care Education’s Director and Training Supervisor) has decades of professional experience in a variety of spiritual care settings and has keen observation and listening skills. As a facilitator of adult learning, Rambhoru strikes a healthy balance between challenging and nurturing the earnest student toward greater integrity as a compassionate care provider.”Pranada Comtois, ACBSP
Author of award-winning
“Wise Love: Bhakti and the Search for the Soul of Consciousness”