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Become a Pastor or Deacon

Is God calling you to public ministry?

In the ELCA, one’s discernment to rostered ministry is called the “Candidacy Process.” Before you enter seminary, you must enter into the candidacy process if it is your intent to become a rostered leader in the ELCA (a Pastor or a Deacon). Candidates along the discernment path are accompanied by the candidate’s home congregation, the seminary, and the Candidacy Committee. The congregation provides prayer and financial support (as possible). The seminary provides opportunity for formation and education. During this process, the Candidacy Committee serves as a discernment partner and provides oversight of the formation/educational process and the candidate’s overall readiness to serve the ELCA as a rostered leader.

Synod Candidacy Contacts

The Candidacy Process

How Do I Pay for Seminary?

Our ELCA Seminaries are now able to offer very generous tuition scholarships, with many students able to receive full-tuition scholarships from ELCA Seminaries.

Candidates attending ELCA Seminaries are also able to apply for the ELCA Fund for Leaders Scholarships. Full-Tuition Applications are due the February before starting Seminary.

STEP 1: Inquirer

An Intentional Time of Discernment of God’s Will

Speak with your pastor and/or deacon about your call to ministry.

You are invited to make use of Called to Lead: God’s Call, Your Vocation – a very helpful resource for discerning how God is calling you to use your gifts for the sake of the gospel for the sake of the world.

Contact Tina Fritz to receive the Candidacy Entrance Packet and to set a time to talk with the Assistant to the Bishop for Candidacy

Upon receipt of all necessary materials, the Florida-Bahamas Synod Candidacy Committee will schedule an Entrance Interview at one of its regularly scheduled meetings. Meetings occur 3 times a year, and typically happen on a Friday and Saturday in February, July, and November.

Optional Tools & Resources to Explore

Begin exploring seminary options, including these ELCA seminaries:

If you are considering a non-ELCA seminary or divinity school, you need to affiliate with an ELCA seminary as soon as possible. Please contact Tina Fritz for more information.

STEP 2: Entrance

The Formal Beginning of the Candidacy Process

The Entrance process in candidacy is the first formal discernment by a candidacy committee and applicants of their readiness for candidacy.

A decision to grant Entrance officially accepts an applicant into candidacy, which means the committee recognizes potential for rostered ministry.

Normally, a candidacy committee will grant Entrance prior to an applicant’s beginning seminary studies. (In unusual circumstances an applicant may begin seminary studies for a period of six months before an Entrance decision is granted.)

Be familiar with Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline. All candidates for ministry are expected to live in accord with its standards of conduct as a candidate and as a rostered minister in the ELCA.

STEP 3: Developmentals

Candidates should be in touch with the synod or the candidacy committee at least once per year.

One of the practices that candidacy committees have found useful for facilitating annual contact and building relationships between the committee and candidates is a developmental interview with the candidate and members of the committee (Candidacy Manual 2023).

Entranced Candidates will be given a Candidacy Committee member to be their relator during this process. The relator will periodically check-in with the candidate and will be the candidate’s first contact for questions during the process.

Developmental interviews are usually opportunities for checking in with the candidate to make sure candidacy is progressing smoothly and the candidate is following up on any recommendations made by the committee during the previous interview. Sometimes the interviews are held to solve a particular problem. The committee tries to have a developmental interview with every candidate during their process.

STEP 4: Endorsement

Official Action Affirming A Candidate’s Demonstration of Appropriate Gifts & Characteristics for Ministry

PRIOR to Endorsement, a candidate must complete:

  • Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) [usually coordinated through your ELCA Seminary/Seminary of Affiliation]
  • A course in Lutheran Confessions at an ELCA Seminary
  • An endorsement essay

Endorsement follows about halfway through the candidacy process and is the point when the candidate specifies, and the committee and seminary faculty validate, a specific roster category.

A candidate is Endorsed by the Candidacy Committee for one of two rosters:

  • Ministry of Word and Sacrament (Pastor)
  • Ministry of Word and Service (Deacon)

PRIOR to Endorsement, a candidate must complete:

  • Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) [usually coordinated through your seminary]
  • A seminary course in Lutheran Confessions

A candidate must be Endorsed in order to proceed to Internship.

STEP 5: Approval

Candidate Is Ready to Serve as a Rostered Minister

Approval is the last official decision a candidacy committee makes, affirming the candidate’s readiness for rostered ministry.

The Candidacy Committee discerns the candidate’s gifts and readiness to serve and lead in this church.

PRIOR to Approval, a candidate must complete:

  • A formal internship (generally coordinated through your seminary)
  • An approval essay

Once Approved, the candidate is ready to begin the formal ELCA First Call Process.

Candidacy Resources