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Publication Date

Spring 3-1-2018


Military chaplains are both clergy persons and officers in the armed services who minister to the members of the military and their families. The military is a unique subculture with its own geography, customs, traditions, and even clothing and hairstyles. Chaplains become a part of this subculture, serve under the same requirements and limitations as any other service member, and enjoy the same benefits, which include a very generous retirement package. When the time comes to transition out of this subculture, retiring chaplains face unique challenges. This dissertation will identify and examine the challenges facing retiring chaplains, the unique gifts and abilities these chaplains have to offer the church, and some of the negative stereotypes they will have to overcome.

This study will look at the underlying biblical and theological issues involved in the retirement of military chaplains. Relevant literature and biblical passages will be reviewed in an effort to develop an understanding of clergy retirement. This work looks carefully at the meaning of ordination as a life-long state and at the concept of vocation or calling as it relates to clergy, with a special focus on retired clergy.

This dissertation argues that to successfully transition to civilian life, retiring military chaplains need to go through a period of liminality, a time where the chaplain examines his or her life journey thus far and listens for God’s leading for the future. The study offers some concrete suggestions of ways chaplains can find healing for the spiritual and psychological wounds they may have received during their time in the military. Finally, this study will give some concrete ways that retiring military chaplains can discern God’s call for the next phase of their lives.

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

First Advisor

Rowland, Randy

Document Type





Military chaplains, retiring chaplains, ordination




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November 2018

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