Pastors are baptized persons whom the ELCIC calls and ordains to the church's ministry of Word and Sacrament. On behalf of the church, pastors give leadership and vision to Christian communities of faith. Pastors are called to provide faithful preaching, teaching and witness to the Scriptures and the doctrinal teaching of the ELCIC. They work in intentional partnership with bishops, other pastors, lay diaconal ministers, lay leaders in congregations and synods, synod and national staff, and ecumenical partners in common mission.
Called and accountable to this church, ordained ministers also extend the ministry of Word and Sacrament beyond congregations into specialized settings such as institutional chaplaincy; colleges and seminaries; camps and missionary fields; and synodical and national offices.
In preparation for service, candidates for ordained ministry complete a four-year Master of Divinity degree, which includes a supervised internship and a unit of supervised pastoral education. The MDiv is normally completed at a seminary of the ELCIC or of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Under certain circumstances, a candidate may study for a Bachelor of Theology or a Diploma in Theology in place of the MDiv. A candidate for ordained ministry must be endorsed by a synodical CTEL and will be considered a candidate for service to the whole church.
Persons rostered as ordained ministers of this church shall:
- demonstrate commitment to Christ;
- accept and adhere to the Scriptures as the inspired Word of God;
- accept and adhere to the Lutheran Confessions of this church;
- show willingness and ability to serve in response to the needs of the church;
- have academic and practical qualifications for ministry, including leadership abilities and competence in interpersonal relationships;
- exhibit commitment to lead a life worthy of the gospel of Christ and in so doing to be an example in faithful service and holy living;
- receive and accept a letter of call; and
- maintain active membership in a congregation of this church.
The ELCIC understands the call to ordained ministry of Word and Sacrament to mean that:
- ordained ministers, called by God through the church, are accountable to the Word of God for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ;
- ordained ministers are called by God through the church and are not self-chosen or self-appointed and do not select a ministry context independent of the church;
- ordained ministers are called by God through the church for a ministry of servanthood, and not for the exercise of domination or coercive power;
- ordained ministry is a privilege granted by God through the call of the church and is not a right of the individual; and
- ordained ministers voluntarily place themselves under the legitimate authority and discipline of this church, and assent to the polity of this church.
All ordained ministers must state a clear intention to live and conduct themselves in a manner consistent with these expectations.
Academic and Practical Criteria for Ordination
In preparation for ordination as a pastor of this church, a candidate is required to engage in a comprehensive program which includes:
- theological education;
- formation for ministry;
- supervised pastoral education; and
- a nine to 12 month internship overseen by an ELCIC seminary.
Candidates for ministry in the ELCIC are expected to be a graduate of a recognized college or university and earn a Master of Divinity, Bachelor of Theology or Diploma in Theology at one of the seminaries of this church. The seminaries of the ELCIC offer programs of preparation for ministry that are of the highest academic quality, faithful to the Lutheran tradition, and uniquely suited to meet the challenges facing this church today. The course of theological study is designed to prepare a pastor to express and reflect on this church's understanding of the gospel and the ministry of the church as expressed in the historic Lutheran confessions. This study is also designed to prepare a pastor to understand the mission of this church in today's world both individually and as a member of society and the world.
With the approval of their CTEL students may be permitted to study at an accredited theological school other than one of the ELCIC. (See page B-6 for Guidelines for Theological Education at Seminaries Other Than ELCIC.)
All candidates for ordained or lay diaconal ministry are expected to engage in spiritual formation through regular worship, prayer and other spiritual disciplines.
ELCIC seminaries require one quarter of supervised pastoral education in their degree and diploma programs. Such a course provides an opportunity to practice the art of pastoral care while converting experience into learning. The usual program to meet this requirement is a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) or Pastoral Counseling Education (PCE) accredited by the Canadian Association for Pastoral Practice and Education (CAPPE).
Internship facilitates the integration of academic study and theological education with the practice of ministry. A positive Endorsement for internship from CTEL is required prior to placement in an internship setting. The ELCIC seminaries serve on behalf of the church to provide a learning experience where a candidate has opportunity to give attention to contextualization, reflection, integration and evaluation (See Internship for Ordination in the ELCIC, page B-4).
Persons seeking ordination as pastors in the ELCIC are expected to participate fully in all steps of the candidacy process established by the national church and administered by a synod CTEL. The process consists of four phases described in subsequent sections of the Candidacy Manual.
- Registration (see Section D) involves initial contact by an individual with a synod bishop or CTEL committee, completion of the Registration application and forms including recommendations from a variety of sources, a structured interview and psychological testing and career evaluation.
- Initial Endorsement concludes the Registration phase. Endorsement by the CTEL is required for ordination candidates before beginning theological studies.
- Annual Endorsement (see Section E) is required for continuation in studies and for internship. Reports of academic and contextual education are required as well as successful completion of the annual Developmental Interview.
- Final Evaluation (see Section F) combines a final evaluation report and recommendation by the CTEL with self-evaluation by the candidate and reports from a variety of sources. A positive recommendation will bring the candidate to Examination (Colloquy) consisting of a written examination and interview by the synod Examining Committee. The Examining Committee may then recommend the candidate to Synod Council for first call and ordination.