Chaplaincy is a common professional interest for Pagan-identified individuals who envision a full-time or part-time career as a Pagan minister. There can be many uphill challenges for Pagan chaplains on account of their affiliating with minoritized, often newer, religious traditions. Several of the largest Pagan organizations today were founded in the 1970s, and quite a few are working to support Pagan chaplains and Pagan chaplaincy where they can.
Aspiring Pagan chaplains often feel special pressures on their discernment processes. They may feel they must seek out the most elite and standardized forms of academic and pastoral training to balance out the stigmas they will encounter because of their nonconformist religious identity. Many Pagans aspiring for careers in religious leadership seek degrees from seminaries like Harvard Divinity School, Starr King School for the Ministry, Union Theological Seminary, and United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities and enroll in ACPE-accredited CPE programs. Cherry Hill Seminary was established as a Pagan seminary at the turn of the twenty-first century. Other Pagan educational institutions are the Woolston-Steen Theological Seminary and Ardantane.
Circle Sanctuary and Sacred Well Congregation are two Pagan organizations on the Veteran Affairs’ list of approved ecclesiastical endorsing organizations. No Pagan organization has been approved for the Department of Defense’s list of ecclesiastical endorsing organizations. Pagans interested in becoming a chaplain within a DoD component may inquire with the local recruiting office. If they are affiliated with a Pagan organization, they might check for interest in becoming an endorsing organization early on in the candidate’s discernment process. Some Pagans seek ordination as Unitarian Universalist ministers. The Unitarian Universalist Association has a long history of including Pagans among its members and its religious leaders, and the Unitarian Universalist Association endorses chaplains. It should be noted that Pagans and Pagan organizations can volunteer their services for military ministries and prison ministries, and many have been doing so for decades. These voluntarily provided services are independent from professional and formal appointment within DoD Chaplaincy.