Church Executive talks with CH (MAJ) Walter McCall about Army Reserve Chaplain Candidacy — a great option for seminary students, ministry professionals, and even bachelor’s degree holders with a calling

Church Executive: The option of becoming a Reserve Chaplain Candidate was new to me. Among the Army Reserve Chaplain Candidates you’ve worked with before, what are most compelling benefits for seminary graduate students considering this path?

CH (MAJ) WALTER McCALL: The benefits are huge for seminary students.

One of them is that you’re assigned to a Reserve center near your home of record, which is typical Army Reserve policy.

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Your primary mission as an Army Reserve Chaplain Candidate, by regulation, is to finish seminary in six years or less. During that time, you’re put into a non-deployable status. You still swear into the Army as a direct commission, as a second lieutenant, so you’re getting compensated for that one weekend per month at the pay of second lieutenant. We all know it helps to get paid while you’re in seminary.

Second, as an Army Reserve Chaplain Candidate, you’re eligible for all Army Reserve medical and dental benefits through TRICARE Reserve Select. It comes at a fee, but it’s very affordable and a really good medical benefit. I used it when I was in the Reserve for my entire family. You’ll also have access to a dental benefit. So, while you’re in seminary as a student — and getting paid — you and your family will also have access to medical and dental benefits.

Finally — and this is key — you’re gaining experience. As a chaplain candidate, you’re assigned to a unit that typically already has a chaplain. That chaplain will train, mentor and coach you on how to provide religious support to the unit, as well as on staff officer responsibilities.

When I finished seminary and applied to an active-duty Army chaplaincy role, the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan were really very active; I deployed four months after pinning as a Chaplain. But I was ready because I came up through the Army Reserve Chaplain Candidate program.

CE: With an age limit of 36 for consideration, is it fair to say that mid-career ministry professionals are a good fit for this role — not just young seminary students, as one might assume?

CH (MAJ) WALTER McCALL: Absolutely. Army Reserve Chaplain Candidacy just requires a bachelor’s degree, in any discipline, and at least an acceptance letter to seminary. We see people coming into the program from faith traditions or denominations that don’t require education — like Pentecostal denominations, Assemblies of God and others — who want to pursue Army chaplaincy. Many are already serving as senior pastors or associate pastors and are 36 or younger. For them, the Army Reserve Chaplain Candidate Program is a perfect fit. It works well for those who are experienced in ministry, but also for those who are just being called into ministry.

In fact, last year, a lot of non-commissioned officers (sergeants) found out that all they needed to enroll in the Army Reserve Chaplain Candidate program was an acceptance letter to seminary. They already had college degrees and wanted to be chaplains; many were already serving in their churches as youth pastors, children’s ministers, deacons or elders. Once they found out it was obtainable, we wrote them left and right. This was the entry point.

CE: Anything to add about the Army Reserve Chaplain Candidate path that’s important to know?

CH (MAJ) WALTER McCALL: Well, it’s important to know that you’ll be mentored by a chaplain who might or might not come from the same denomination as you. One piece of advice I share with all my chaplain candidates is to learn from your mentors, even if you don’t necessarily agree with them or aren’t on the same page theologically or doctrinally. In spite of that, they’re going to teach you everything you need to know to become a good chaplain and a good staff officer. And the things they teach you can also challenge what you’re learning in seminary.

— Reporting by RaeAnn Slaybaugh


CH (MAJ) Walter McCall is from Hackensack, NJ, born 23 September 1970. He is ordained by House of Restoration Ministries Staten Island, NY, and endorsed by The Coalition of Spirit Filled Churches. He served as Associate Pastor for House of Restoration New York City (2014-2019), Youth Pastor at Beth-El Love Christian Center in Orange, New Jersey (1999-2011), Club Advisor Fellowship of Christian Athletes at East Orange High School in New Jersey (2004-2022), and Prison Chaplain at Essex County Youth Detention Center in Newark, NJ (2000-2003). He has earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education and Religious Studies from Manhattan College in Bronx, NY; a Master’s in Education from Marygrove College in Detroit; and a Master of Divinity in Urban Ministries from Alliance Theological Seminary in Manhattan, NY.

Chaplain McCall currently serves as the Officer-In-Charge at U.S. Army Chaplain Recruiting South-Central Station in Grand Prairie, TX, recruiting all states from Iowa to Texas. He previously served as Brigade Chaplain at 3rd Brigade 98th Training Division providing religious support to Drill Sergeant Detachments from Maine to Maryland, and Cadet Summer Training Fort Knox since August 2019. He commissioned in 2008 as a Chaplain Candidate and became a Chaplain in 2014. As a Second Lieutenant, he served as a Chaplain Candidate from 2008-2010 for the 77th Sustainment Brigade. As a First Lieutenant from 2010-2014, he continued to serve as a Chaplain Candidate for the 99th Readiness Division Strong Bonds Team, and West Point Gospel Service at the United States Military Academy. Upon his promotion to the rank of Captain and becoming a Chaplain in 2014, he served as the 462nd Movement Control Battalion Chaplain in Trenton, NJ. He deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve with the 113th Chaplain Detachment 2014-2015. He was assigned as the Theater Gateway Chaplain for 1st Theater Sustainment Command Camp on Arifjan, Kuwait for five months pastoring the Pentecostal Service, and Erbil, Iraq for four months serving as FOB Danger Chaplain to 1st Infantry Division, 82nd Airborne 2nd Brigade Combat Team, Air Force Pararescue, and Coalition Forces. Chaplain McCall served as Battalion Chaplain for the 436th Movement Control Battalion Staten Island, NY 2015-2019. He deployed with the 436th in support of Operation Enduring Freedom to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait in 2017-2018 providing religious support to Movement Control Teams in Kuwait, Iraq, Jordan and Syria while Co-Pastoring the Contemporary Worship Service at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait and Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center, Iraq.

Chaplain McCall’s Army education includes Chaplains Basic Officer Leadership Course (2010); U.S. Army Soldier Leader Risk Reduction (2016); Dover AFB Family Support Chaplain Training (2019); Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (2020); Army Reserve Chaplain Corps Battle Focused Training (2020); Chaplains Captains Career Course (2020); Intermediate Level Education Phase 1, Phase 2 (Present).

His awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal bronze oak leaf, Army Achievement Medal one silver oak leaf, Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal three bronze oak leaf clusters, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal Mobilization and Hourglass device, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary, Army Overseas Service Ribbon, and Army Service Ribbon.

Chaplain McCall has been married to Jacquelyn Adorno-McCall for 29 years. They have three children: Isaiah McCall, 26; Ariella McCall, 25; and Isabella McCall, 15.


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