The COMISS Network: The Network on Ministry in Specialized Settings was founded as the Council on Ministry in Specialized Settings in June of 1979. It is a national organization of chaplaincy, pastoral care, and pastoral counseling stakeholders. The organization has been known as the Council, Congress, Coalition and, now, Network on Ministry in Specialized Settings or less formally, or for short - The COMISS Network. The COMISS Network is the product of many years of interfaith cooperation in the development and delivery of pastoral services to persons in a variety of specialized ministry settings. Among these ministries are chaplaincies in healthcare facilities, correctional institutions, mental health settings, the armed forces, business settings, industrial settings, pastoral counseling, clinical pastoral education, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Vision of the COMISS Network is to be a pre-eminent network; a unified voice for the preparation and practice of spiritual care through chaplaincy and pastoral counseling. The Mission of the COMISS Network is to be a network of professional organizations, institutions, and faith communities that promotes and supports collaboration among its membership and is the collective voice of advocacy to a variety of publics on behalf of the network. COMISS Network is not a certifying or accrediting organization.
COMISS Network is a forum for dialogue and action among four distinct pastoral care and counseling communities:
(1) Professional Accreditation and Certification Organizations - which certify professional chaplains and pastoral counselors to perform ministry or to train for professional pastoral care;
(2) Religious Endorsing Bodies - which endorse professional chaplains and pastoral counselors to perform ministry in specialized settings;
(3) Professional Pastoral Care Organizations - which exist as groups of chaplains and/or other pastoral care professionals whose work focuses on ministry in specialized settings;
(4) Chaplain and Pastoral Counselor Employing Organizations - which utilize the services of chaplains or pastoral counselors certified by one of the Certifying Organizations of COMISS Network.
(5) Academic and Educational Institutions - which prepare students for chaplaincy/specialized ministry through academic degree programs and/or conduct research related to ministry in specialized settings.
These distinct communities share a common commitment to the value of religious faith and practice in the shaping of individual and community life. In addition, they share a common will to make available appropriate ministry in specialized settings, ministry characterized by the highest levels of professionalism, loving service, mutual trust, mutual support, integrity and justice.
Current COMISS Network Initiatives:
The COMISS Commission for Accreditation of Pastoral Services (CCAPS): CCAPS provides accreditation for healthcare organizations involved in the delivery of pastoral care in specialized settings. The commission is concerned with the development and application of professional standards for pastoral care departments. CCAPS will attest to the ability of a facility and its Pastoral Care Services to meet the Standards for Accreditation of Pastoral Care Services developed by the COMISS Network. Although accreditation of a Healthcare Organization’s Pastoral Services by CCAPS is a voluntary procedure, accreditation of a healthcare facility’s pastoral services demonstrates a commitment to providing quality, holistic, cost-effective care. Accreditation sends an important message to consumers about their health and the importance of choosing a healthcare facility that emphasizes delivering good care.
Pastoral Care Week: Pastoral Care Week started in 1983 when the National Association of Catholic Chaplains passed a resolution to establish a Pastoral Care Week. The first Pastoral Care Week was held in October 1985. In December of the following year, the Congress on Ministries in Specialized Settings recommended at their annual meeting to establish a committee to implement a National Pastoral Care Week. Since then it has grown beyond national to international proportions. The celebration of Pastoral Care Week provides an opportunity for chaplains and pastoral care counselors, educators and providers to share their story and to celebrate various ministries. Each year a new theme brings to the light a certain aspect of pastoral care as a focus. A new theme invites us to new and creative ways to tell the story of pastoral care. Pastoral Care Week recognizes and highlights professional chaplaincy and pastoral care in specialized settings.
Our purpose is to provide our membership with a unique forum for communication, networking, and advocacy beyond our common calling to pastoral ministry.
Our Mission is to be a pre-eminent network of organizations committed to the preparation and practice of multi-faith spiritual care through chaplaincy and pastoral counseling in specialized settings and promotes and supports collaboration among its members.
Our Objectives are:
To provide a forum for dialogue among those who share a similar mission, nationally and internationally.
To encourage shared programs/resources in order to increase collaboration and reduce duplication among members.
To advocate professionalism in standards and service in the provision of multi-faith-based care and counseling.
To educate our constituency and various publics regarding the value of professional faith-based care and counseling.
To propose and plan initiatives that furthers our purpose.
To encourage research into experience-based pastoral care and counseling.