Original Research

A relevant ministry for the armed forces: An agenda for the South African National Defence Force chaplains praxis

Mnyalaza T. Masuku
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 41, No 1 | a2071 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v41i1.2071 | © 2020 Mnyalaza T. Masuku | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 November 2019 | Published: 07 September 2020

About the author(s)

Mnyalaza T. Masuku, Department of Science of Religion and Missiology, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


Chaplaincy in South Africa (SA) recently became an attractive ministry and research fields for both ministers and theologians, respectively, more especially since the dawn of democracy in 1994. The military chaplaincy has been flooded with applications and enquiries from ministers and leaders from religions other than Christianity who want to secure their space in the ministry to the SA armed forces. Individual churches are also joining the queue for enquiries. As SA is a multireligious nation, religions other than Christianity are also knocking at the door of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), claiming their right to be accommodated. For this reason, it is important for churches, other religious organisations, leaders, ministers and theological institutions or faculties to have knowledge of this unique world and its context, as well as the ministry dynamics and challenges involved. This will assist them in order to prepare appropriately in terms of shaping the curricula and qualifications of their ministers for effective ministry to the armed forces with special reference to the SANDF. This article investigates the dynamics of the military chaplaincy in relation to historical developments along similar chaplaincies globally, the nature of its ministry to the SA armed forces and the challenges posed by the ministry context (SANDF environment), and finally, it crafts and proposes a suitable curriculum for a relevant and effective ministry in the SANDF and the world.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article is located in the field of Missiology. However, it has interdisciplinary implications that affect disciplines such as Military Science, Sociology, Practical Theology and Church History, which all assist as building blocks towards a relevant ministry for the armed forces.


chaplaincy; armed forces; South African National Defence Force; ministry; ministers; chaplains; Department of Defence; theological education; curriculum


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