The Origins and Purpose of the VA Black Chaplains Association

Origins – The Department of Veterans Affairs National Black Chaplains Association began in 1988.

First Meeting – The first meeting of DVA-NBCA was held in Hampton, VA in October 1990.

Purpose – The purpose of the organization is to support the upward mobility efforts of African American chaplains; to provide educational opportunities for chaplains in cultural diversity; to recognize pioneers of the association, and provide a network for communicating contemporary chaplain concerns. The VA Black Chaplains Association is also one of the organizations that help to strengthen VA’s efforts to promote cultural diversity. The organization meets twice a year for its Executive Board and Annual Conference sessions in March and October, respectively. There are approximately 90 African American chaplains in VA including contracted and fee basis. An average of 20 chaplains attend the executive planning session which meets in mid March, and 30 to 45 for the Annual Conference in mid October.

Membership – The association has three types membership:

General Membership is available to any African American Chaplain employed by the DVA.

Associate Membership is available to all other chaplains employed by or retired from the DVA and clergy spouses of chaplains who qualify for membership. It is also extended to Minority Chaplains from other federal institutions including Military, Prison, CPE Residents, Endorsers and other Allied Professionals.

Board Membership is extended to all persons holding office, committee chairpersons, past presidents, and active and retired African American chaplain executives.

Certification – The NBCA also provides a nationally recognized clinical certification for qualified members. In 1993 the association entered into a certification validation agreement with the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) of Atlanta Georgia, and in 2000 entered into the reciprocity arrangement with the National Association of VA Chaplains (NAVAC), recognizing valid clinical certifications by VA cognate groups

History – The history of the association is brief but significant. After long and often difficult struggles for recognition of an African American organization within VA, several black chaplains were summoned to the National Chaplain School in Hampton, Virginia, in 1988/89 to make up a task force on minority concerns and development. These chaplains, mapping out their strategy for developing such an association, wrote their position papers. In October 1990 the first official meeting of the DVA-NBCA was held in Hampton, Virginia, complimenting the efforts of many dedicated and committed chaplains. The late Chaplain Charles Quick of Pennsylvania was elected as the first president. Chaplains Randall C. Hutchinson of Illinois and Howard W. Jones of Virginia followed in 1991 and 1996 respectively. Chaplain Joseph Hilton of Ohio became the fourth president in October 2000 followed by Chaplain Michael L. McCoy, and in 2005 by Chaplain Alice Tamrie.