The Process and Protocol
The ELCA churchwide assignment process is the responsibility of the Congregational and Synodical Mission Unit in consultation with the Conference of Bishops. Some factors affecting assignment have changed recently. The most significant change is that fewer vacancies are available as reported by synodical bishops while the number of candidates has remained about the same. Candidate requests to serve are currently exceeding the openings. Those who participate in the Churchwide Assignment Consultation engage in prayerful conversation as assignment decisions are made.
To help us all navigate our way, the Conference of Bishops has established guidelines describing appropriate conduct for candidates and synodical offices during the assignment process. The following are important protocols to honor:
- Candidates are not to have conversations with pastors or congregations regarding availability for call prior to assignment. While being sought after may feel good, it is unfair to the whole church, which has invested in your preparation over the past several years. In the event a congregation or pastor initiates contact, the candidate should refer the inquiry to that congregation’s synodical bishop.
- Candidates are encouraged to learn about the ministry opportunities in the various regions and synods of this church. Several bishops will visit each of the eight ELCA seminaries during the fall engaging candidates in extended conversation. The churchwide staff in each region as well as synod Web sites are also a good source of basic information. For a complete list of synods, click here.
- Synod bishops or their staff may initiate conversations with candidates to explore the suitability for service in their synod. This is particularly necessary when a candidate requests restriction to a particular synod. During these conversations bishops and their staff will not give specific advice on requests for preferences or restrictions nor will they make commitments to candidates prior to assignment.