Historical and Legal Foundations for Chaplaincy, Pt. 2 (Ordained Chaplains: The Work of the Chaplain #2, with Daniel Whyte III at Gospel Light Society University)

Taught at Gospel Light Society University.


Daniel Whyte III

Daniel Whyte III

The simple purpose of this podcast is to help those who are interested in serving others through chaplaincy, pastoring, coaching, and counseling learn the basics of the profession.

Our Work of the Chaplain passage of Scripture for this episode is Philippians 2:4 which says, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”

Our Work of the Chaplain quote for this episode is from Samuel Chadwick. He said, “Compassion costs. It is easy enough to argue, criticize, and condemn, but redemption is costly, and comfort draws from the deep. Brains can argue, but it takes heart to comfort.”

In this podcast, we are going through the fine book: “The Work of the Chaplain” by Naomi K. Paget and Janet R. McCormack.

Our topic today is “Historical Foundations for Chaplaincy.”

The origin of the word chaplain comes from the early history of the Christian church. Traditionally, a story relates the compassion of a fourth-century holy man named Martin who shared his cloak with a beggar. Upon the death of Bishop Martin, his cloak (capella in Latin) was enshrined as a reminder of the sacred act of compassion. The guardian of the capella became known as the chapelain, which transliterated into English became chaplain. Today, the chaplain continues to guard the sacred and to share his or her cape out of compassion.

Perhaps the most documented history in chaplaincy is in the area of military chaplaincy. From the settlement of Caanan, the Middle Ages, and the American Revolutionary War, chaplains have served the armies of the world. The Continental Congress recognized the need for professional chaplains and authorized salaries equal to regimental surgeons, thereby elevating chaplaincy to a professional status. Today, chaplains serve in all branches of the United States military as officers and professional caregivers.

Healthcare chaplaincy has also been well documented from the early twentieth century. When hospitals were first created, they were usually an extension of a religious group who provided care for their own followers. Later, hospitals began to care for people of many faith traditions. In doing so, multifaith needs were identified. When physicians recognized the advantage in providing spiritual care in addition to medical care, healthcare chaplaincy was born. Today, many healthcare chaplains in the United States are trained in theology, psychosocial development, ethics, and a variety of other disciplines through seminaries, supervised clinical training, and other highly specialized forms of learning.

Many other types of chaplain ministry have developed as an outgrowth of military and hospital chaplaincy. Industrial and workplace chaplaincy existed in seventeenth century Massachusetts where religious instruction was required in many factories, mills, and worksites. By the twentieth century, workplace chaplaincy expanded into many new areas, including corporations and small businesses, race tracks and casinos, homeless shelters and retirement homes, poultry plants and truck stops. As people identify special-interest groups that benefit from spiritual care, chaplaincy positions are created. Many new agencies have instituted chaplain programs to first responders or emergency personnel. It is fairly common to find chaplains serving agencies that provide law enforcement, fire repression, and emergency medical response.

Chaplain ministry developed because people needed spiritual care even when they were not in church (or their faith’s equivalent) and especially when they were in a crisis situation — war, sickness, specialized occupations, or disasters. Today, there is much clinical evidence that supports the benefits of spiritual care — chaplain ministry — for people who suffer during critical events. This ministry was once initiated by employers, governments, and agencies. Today, it is often initiated by religious organizations and the victims of critical events.


Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books including the Essence Magazine, Dallas Morning News, and Amazon.com national bestseller, Letters to Young Black Men. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry.

He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others.

He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty University’s Rawlings School of Divinity (formerly Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary). He is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Ministry degree.

He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica since 1987. God has blessed their union with seven children.

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  1. I’m glad to see you include the development of multi-faith chaplaincies that help balance the work of compassion. The story of the cloak, while probably legendary, seems appropriate to the work of practical service, which, I would add, does not have to include a theological position. There is a growing number of Humanist chaplains to provide what many religious chaplains cannot or will not offer for the growing number of secular persons. The common thread is drawn from that cloak, perhaps.

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