The Seventh-day Adventist military chaplain is first of all a Seventh-day Adventist minister. The denominational manual for ministers is his manual. Military directives protect the chaplain from any act that would violate his conscience or the practice of his church.
It is clear that the chaplain's religious authority is only that which is given him by his church. He has no right to perform any religious function not authorized by his church or any which would be out of harmony with his church. An Adventist chaplain is in the chaplaincy only as an Adventist minister.
All Seventh-day Adventist ministers are connected as denominational workers to some branch of the organization. Military chaplains have this connection through the National Service Organization, which is a part of the Young People's Missionary Volunteer Department. The General Conference Committee gives ecclesiastical endorsement to chaplains on recommendation of the National Service Organization Committee. Biennially this committee reviews the experience and recommendations concerning all chaplains and votes on recommendations for continued ecclesiastical endorsement.
The chaplain should have good relations not only with the men of the NSO but also with the officers of the conference or mission organizations, both local and union, in which he is stationed. He should inform them of his presence as soon as he arrives at a new station. He should, at the local president's convenience, pay him a visit. He should attend the local camp meeting.
Probably the chaplain will receive an invitation to attend the conference workers' meetings, and if so, should attend them whenever possible. Such meetings bring him in contact with his fellow ministers within the conference borders, and keep him abreast of their thinking and familiar with their problems. Association with conference ministers also prevents the chaplain from feeling alone and apart from other workers. The contact may be of equal benefit to the civilian ministers who should know more regarding our men in uniform. The chaplain should invite the conference officials and nearby pastors for a special visit to the installation. On their arrival he should introduce them to the commander and to key personnel and give them a briefing on the religious program of the station.
In all relationships with civilian pastors the chaplain should exercise courtesy and cordiality. If there is a Seventh-day Adventist church near his installation, he should invite the pastor to join him frequently in his services with and for the Adventist personnel. This pastor should be made familiar with procedures so that he can care for the interests of the Adventist personnel in the absence of the chaplain.
Chaplaincy in any of the three branches of military service is an opportunity to serve God in a unique way. It brings a man of God in contact with Adventist youth when they feel far from other denominational influence. He can encourage, stabilize and spiritually nourish these men and their families He can win souls in a field largely closed to other Adventist ministers. In this sphere of labor, which may easily become one of considerable personal danger, the chaplain has the endorsement of his denomination, its prayers, and its esteem.