Preferences & Restrictions
Stating a preference can mean a personal hope or desire, as well as specific personal or family needs that can be met in certain geographical contexts. Preferences will be noted and taken seriously during the assignment consultation but a preference is not understood to take precedence over a candidate’s availability for call where this church has need. In order to provide clarity between restrictions and preferences, the following are offered as illustrative:
- Personal, spousal or children’s educational needs in most circumstances are preferences, not restrictions. Most needs can be met well in several locations given some diligent research and willingness to commute reasonable distances.
- Proximity to extended family members is normally a preference. Candidates may experience some distress with a distant assignment, but many families discover new horizons and travel opportunities following a move to a new area.
- Type of staff setting is normally a preference unless, for example, a candidacy committee has specifically indicated a team ministry for the purposes of mentoring.
Requesting a restriction means that a candidate is available for first call only within a limited geographical area and/or with specific conditions. It also means that, given a limited number of call possibilities in any area, a candidate may wait for an indefinite period to have call opportunities. Thus, in requesting a restriction, a candidate acknowledges that the restriction takes precedence over his/her availability for call to serve in the ELCA.
Because of its significant investment in the preparation of candidates for ministry, the larger church considers itself a partner in the conversation about what constitutes a restriction. You are encouraged to consider how God may be at work in calls that stretch you beyond what you might envision for yourself.
Consider the following information as you contemplate requesting a restriction:
- In the assignment process, seminary representatives (president, dean or contextual education director) provide valuable information. Be sure you discuss the nature of your restriction with the designated seminary representative who can offer information both to you and this church regarding how you might best serve.
- If the region and/or synod you identify as your area of restriction cannot accept your assignment or if your home synod or the seminary representative cannot support the restriction request, you will have the choice either to remove the restriction or wait until a future assignment.
- In some cases, a restriction may have a defined time limitation. For example, your spouse may be completing a degree program. If so, please be sure to share additional information about the time frame during which the restriction would be in effect.
- Please be clear about the specific nature of your restriction. The following are examples: your spouse is a rostered clergyperson under call in the ELCA or another denomination; your spouse’s vocational or educational situation imposes a restriction; custody of children under a divorce decree cannot be modified; or critical health issues for a household member can only be treated in specific locations.