The First Call Theological Education program is designed to be mutually beneficial for the nearly rostered leader, and his or her assigned congregation (or other calling body).
Below are some commonly asked questions and answers regarding the congregation’s role in the program.
How do congregations support FCTE?
The congregation expresses its commitment to supporting its newly rostered leader in the following ways:
- Providing time for the first call leader to participate in all components of the program.
- The congregation's Staff Support Committee, Mutual Ministry Committee, or other designated group works with the newly rostered leader and synodical representative in developing a Learning Covenant for FCTE which assures that the congregation's ministry goals are kept in mind when selecting continuing education offerings. This group can also provide periodic review of progress toward the goals of the covenant.
The Rev. April Ulring Larson, former bishop of the La Crosse Area Synod, feels that people within the congregation play a tremendous role in the church's continuing theological education program.
“I usually joke about how we learn our academic learning, our biblical studies, our exegetical work, theological work, our pastoral care work from the seminaries; but the people teach us how to be a pastor. There's a little bit of exaggeration in that, but there's a lot of truth to it. We really learn to be a pastor from the people that we serve.” - 1996 FCTE video
What are benefits of FCTE for congregations?
We really learn to be a pastor from the people that we serve.
- The Rev. April Ulring Larson
When a congregation commits to this program for a newly called pastor, associate in ministry, deaconess or diaconal minister, the congregation may expect:
- A graceful transition for the new leader from candidacy to congregational ministry
- A more vibrant ministry
- Increased support for the ministries of people in their daily lives
- A healthy relationship between the new leader and the congregation
- More effective ministry to a changing world
- Shared participation in learning that makes a difference
- Joy in doing ministry together
The costs of the program are intended to fall within synodical guidelines for continuing education. Costs for the core program differ across synods and regions, depending on travel and accommodations costs. Congregations are expected to include in their compensation package a continuing education item which helps cover the cost of core events and electives. Rostered leaders are expected to contribute some funds also. Synods are encouraged to set aside a special fund for First Call Theological Education (FCTE) to help defray the cost of core events.
What are some ways the congregation can support the FCTE participants financially?
- The congregation contributes travel cost and participant contributes room and board cost (in addition to the congregation's continuing education fund for the newly called leader).
- Encourage lay leaders to participate with rostered leaders in continuing education offerings by applying for local matching grants from Thrivent for Lutherans.
- Congregations with foundations and endowments make gifts to the synod to support FCTE and continuing education of all rostered leaders.