COMISS Network:

The Network on

Ministry in

Specialized Settings

COMISS Network Leadership:


The following persons provide leadership for COMISS Network. There are six leadership positions with some positions elected each year.


· Karen Ballard; Chair (2019-2020)
· Darryl Owens; Chair Elect (2019-2020)
· David Berg; Treasurer (2019-2020)-(First Term)
· Patricia Appelhans; Secretary (2018-2019)-(Second Term)
· Steven Voytovich; Member-at-Large (2018-2019)-(First Term)

· Carole Collins; Member-at-Large (2019)-(Completing a Vacated Term)

· Clyde Angel; Chair, Spiritual Care Week (2017-2019)-(First Term)


COMISS Network Guidelines

Revised January 2020 by the Annual Forum, Crystal City, VA.



Download COMISS Network Guidelines 



COMISS Network Guidelines

Revised at the January 2020 Annual Forum in Crystal City, VA.

I. Name, Purpose, Mission and Objectives

a. The name of this group is COMISS Network; incorporated as a 501.c3 in
    Atlanta, Georgia.
b. The Purpose of the COMISS Network is to provide its membership with a
    unique forum for communication, networking, and advocacy.
c. The Mission of the COMISS Network is to serve as the pre-eminent
    network of professional organizations, institutions, and faith communities
    that promotes and supports collaboration among its member organizations
    which are committed to the theological and clinical education and the
    competent practice of interfaith spiritual care through chaplaincy and
    pastoral counseling and research in specialized settings.
d. The Vision of the COMISS Network is to facilitate advocacy for
    specialized ministry by developing and sharing evidenced based best
    practices in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling and research.
e. The Objectives of the COMISS Network are:
             i.   To provide a forum for dialogue among its member organizations.
             ii.  To encourage shared programs/resources toward creating greater
                   collaboration among specialized ministries.
             iii. To advocate professionalism in standards and in the provision of
                   interfaith-based care and counseling.
              iv. To educate our constituency and various publics about the value of
                   professional interfaith-based spiritual care and counseling.
              v.  To propose and plan initiatives that further our mission, vision, and
              vi. To promote ongoing research in order to establish evidence-based
                   spiritual care and counseling.

II. Membership:

a. Membership is available to organizations which subscribe to the purpose,
mission, and objectives of COMISS. Organizations applying for
membership and those renewing current membership may self-select the
organization’s membership category. The characteristics of each category
are recommended guidelines for assisting the organizations in selecting
the most appropriate category for membership:
               i. Professional Certifying or Accrediting Organization: These
                  organizations certify individuals for the practice of and or training
                  for professional spiritual care. They will demonstrate how
                  certified chaplains, pastoral counselors, or other pastoral care
                  professionals conform to a code of ethics that prohibits
                  proselytizing, conflicts of interest, and crossing of professional

                  boundaries. Or, organizations in this category accredit institutions,
                  facilities, centers, or systems for the practice, education, and
                  training of chaplains, pastoral counselors, and/or other spiritual
                  care professionals.
              ii. Religious Endorsing Bodies: These organizations include faith
                  groups, denominations, or religious organizations which endorse
                  individuals of their respective group for chaplaincy, pastoral
                  counseling, and/or other professional spiritual care ministries. A
                  Religious Endorsing Body will be able to demonstrate a process of
                  endorsement which includes on-going accountability between the
                  endorser and the endorsed individual. Also, these organizations
                  will be able to demonstrate recognition as a religious endorsing
                  body. They will be able to demonstrate that they are recognized as
                  a 501 (C) (3) religious organization and have primarily a lay
             iii. Professional Membership Organizations: These organizations exist
                  as groups of chaplains and/or other pastoral care professionals
                  whose work focuses on ministry in specific specialized settings.
                  These organizations may be for profit or not for profit.
              iv. Chaplain and Pastoral Counselor Employing Organizations or
                  Agencies: These organizations utilize the services of chaplains
                  and/or pastoral counselors who are certified by one of the
                  Certifying Organizations of the COMISS Network. These
                  organizations may be for profit or not for profit, but they must
                  demonstrate, via their mission statement and table of organization,
                  that they operate in accordance with the purpose, mission, and
                  objectives of the COMISS Network.
               v. Academic and Educational Institutions: These institutions prepare
                  students for chaplaincy/ specialized ministry through academic
                  degree programs and/or conduct research related to ministry in
                  specialized settings. These institutions are accredited by an
                  accrediting organization recognized by the Council for Higher
                  Education Accreditation (CHEA) and/or the U.S. Department of

III. COMISS Network Forum

a. Membership
               i. Members in good standing are current in membership dues and
                  have filed all reports required.
              ii. Each member organization may be represented by up to three
             iii. There will be one vote per member organization in good standing.
b. Annual Forum
               i. The COMISS Network will gather for one or more meetings
                  annually in Forum.

              ii. All Forum business will be presented for agenda approval to the
                  COMISS Network Leaders no later than 24 hours prior to the
                  opening of the Forum.
             iii. The conduct of business at the Annual Forum will include
                  presentations, discussion and action on:
                      1. Annual reports
                      2. Financial report
                      3. Presentation of a budget and its adoption
                      4. Election of officers
                      5. Election of nominating committee
                      6. Presentation of new members
                      7. Proposed new initiatives
             iv. All mailings pertaining to an upcoming Forum are to be sent to
                 the member organizations.

IV. COMISS Network Leadership (Officers and At-Large Members)

a. Network Leadership shall be members of one of the member organizations
    of the COMISS Network in good standing.
b. The COMISS Network Leadership annual elections shall take place at the
    Annual Forum.
c. New COMISS Network Leaders will begin their terms of office at the
    conclusion of the Annual Forum.
d. The officers of COMISS Network will be:

              i. Chair
                    1. Presides at all meetings of the COMISS Network Forum
                        and the COMISS Network Leadership.
                    2. Presents an annual report to the Forum.
              ii. Chair-Elect
                    1. Assumes the duties of the Chair in absence or disability of
                        the Chair.
                    2. Serves as chair of Forum Program Planning Task Force.
              iii. Treasurer
                    1. Is responsible for preparing a budget for review by the
                        COMISS Network Leadership and for approval by the
                        Forum Membership.
                    2. Provides financial reports to the COMISS Network
                        Leadership and to the Annual Forum.
                    3. Schedules an audit every three years with an outside
                        professional auditor.
               iv. Secretary
                   1. Attends all sessions of the COMISS Network Leadership
                       and Annual Forum and records all votes and minutes.

e. The officers of the COMISS Network will serve as the officers of the
    corporation and as such are responsible for its business and direction as
    approved by the COMISS Network.
f. At-Large Members: There shall be two at-large members elected at the
    Annual Forum by and from the membership groups to insure diversity.
g. Spiritual Care Week Committee Chair: The spiritual care week committee
    chair will be the liaison between the COMISS Network Leadership and
    the Spiritual Care Week Committee.
h. CCAPS Chair:  The CCAPS Chair will be a member of the COMISS Leadership Team.
i. The COMISS Network Leadership will act on business responsibilities
    between meetings of the Forum. They will:
                i. Contract services
               ii. Hire and annually evaluate staff
              iii. Implement decisions of the Forum
               iv. Be responsible for the budget
                v. Engage the membership in strategic planning
               vi. Establish and appoint Task Forces as needed to support the mission
                    and objectives.
              vii. Financial Mgt
j. Terms of Service
                i. The Chair and Chair-Elect will each serve one two-year term. The
                    Chair-Elect succeeds the Chair. If the chair position is vacated
                    before the end of the two year term the chair-elect will assume the
                    position and fill the unexpired term (and afterwards, fulfilling the
                    term to which s/he was elected.) An election will be held at the
                    next Forum to elect a succeeding chair-elect.
                ii. In the interest of continuity, a nominee for Chair-Elect is selected
                    by the COMISS Network Leadership from the COMISS Network
                    Leadership or from former COMISS Network Leadership
                    members who have served within the last 5 years.
               iii. The Secretary, Treasurer and two Members-at-Large of the
                    COMISS Network Leadership will serve a two-year term and may
                    be re-elected to one successive term.
                iv. The Chair-Elect and Treasurer will be elected in odd-numbered
                     years; the Secretary and two At-Large members will be elected in
                     even-numbered years.
                 v. Spiritual Care Week Committee members will serve a four-year
                     term and may be reappointed to a second term. The Chair will serve
                    a four-year term and may be appointed to a second term.
                vi. CCAPS Commissioners will serve three-year terms and may be
                    reappointed to one successive term.

               vii. Individuals who are completing an unfulfilled term are eligible to
                     serve a two-year term and be re-elected to one successive term.
              viii. The chair can appoint an individual for Secretary or Treasurer if
                     the position is vacated prior to the Forum.

V. COMISS Network Staff and/or Outside Services

a. The Executive Administrator
b. The Bookkeeper

VI. Standing Committees and Commissions

a. A Nominating Committee of four (4) will be nominated and elected
    annually from the membership categories at the Annual Forum. They will
    be responsible for the process of nominations and conducting the election.
                 i. Solicit names from each of the membership groups.
                ii. Secure agreement to being nominated from the nominee.
               iii. Prepare the slate to be mailed to the membership with registrations
                    packets for the Annual Forum.
                iv. Conduct the election at the Annual Forum.
                 v. The Committee may receive nominations from the floor.
                vi. They are administratively accountable to the COMISS Network
b. The COMISS Commission for Accreditation of Pastoral Services consists
    of two members.
                 i. The Network Leadership will appoint two commissioners drawn
                    from the COMISS Network Membership, one of which will be Chair.
                    Network. When there is a commissioner vacancy, CCAPS will
                    receive applications from individuals representing the appropriate
                    membership group. CCAPS will then make their recommendation
                    to the National Leadership who will make the appointment.
                ii. CCAPS will:
                           1. Propose and revise CCAPS standards
                           2. Conduct accreditation site visits of pastoral services
                           3. Represent the COMISS Network to external national
                               accrediting bodies
                           4. Submit an annual report to the Network
                           5. Recommend nominees to the Network Leadership for the
                               at-large commissioners from outside the Network.
                iii. COMISS Network Leadership will:
                           1. Approve membership criteria for CCAPS

                           2. Appoint CCAPS commissioners. The commissioners will
                               elect their own chair from among themselves.
                           3. Approve policies, procedures, and standards of CCAPS.
                           4. Approve CCAPS accreditation recommendations for
                               pastoral services.
c. Spiritual Care Week Committee
                  i. The purpose of the committee is to plan and implement the annual
                     observance of Spiritual Care Week. A committee will be
                     appointed by the COMISS Network Leadership from among the
                     membership categories. The Spiritual Care Week observance is
                     intended to raise awareness of the importance of pastoral/spiritual
                     care. This includes, but is not limited to:
                           1. Determination of a theme for a three-year cycle in advance.
                           2. Promote and manage an opportunity for constituents to
                               design and submit a graphic promoting a theme.
                           3. Produce publicity and educational materials to support the
                           4. May contract with and supervise a manufacturer to supply
                           5. May supervise sale and distribution of materials
                 ii. The committee will nominate its own chair with approval by the
                     COMISS Network Leadership.
                iii. The committee will present an annual report to the Annual Forum. 

VII. Amendments and revisions to the Guidelines

a. Will be developed as needed by the COMISS Network Leadership
b. Will be sent to the voting member of record of each member organization
    60 days prior to the Forum.
c. Changes to the Guidelines shall be ratified by a simple majority of the
    voting members present at the annual Forum.

VIII. Required Quorum

a. At the COMISS Network Leadership meetings, a simple majority (one
    more than half of the Network Leadership) is sufficient to take action.
b. At the Annual Forum a simple majority of the voting members present is
    sufficient to take action.