Interdependence within the ELCA means that throughout the candidacy process, there is a sharing of responsibility and accountability among partners: candidates, congregations, candidacy committees, seminaries, and candidacy staff in the Christian Community and Leadership home area. Each partner in the process has a distinctive role but also consistently cooperates with the other partners.
They all work together and communicate openly to ensure that the ELCA prepares gifted people who are called by God to serve as rostered ministers in this church.
The Applicant/Candidate brings personal faith, commitment to Christ, and a sense of call. Discernment begins before an application to candidacy, continues throughout the process, and becomes a life-long journey. Candidates are expected to be responsible and invested partners in this process. They should use initiative in completing the candidacy application materials; be open to growth, learning, and feedback throughout candidacy; be in regular communication with the other candidacy partners; and willing to serve in response to the needs of the church.
The Congregation identifies and accompanies people as they discern their vocation. As part of the application process, congregational leaders fill out forms about an applicant and share them with the local candidacy committee. A congregation’s role is to provide support and accompaniment throughout the candidacy process. Congregations are encouraged to affirm the gifts of a candidate and invite them to preach, teach, and lead worship as candidates are available.
The Synod Candidacy Committee makes decisions about the fitness of applicants or candidates for rostered ministry. The committee acts on behalf of the whole ELCA to assess the character and qualifications of applicants and candidates. It accompanies candidates throughout the candidacy process and provides care, support and guidance for applicants and candidates in their ongoing discernment. It maintains and examines files for candidates and interviews candidates at appropriate times throughout the process. Through prayer and discernment, careful reading and thorough interviews, the committee assesses and makes decisions at Entrance, Endorsement, and Approval for candidate readiness.
Seminaries provide theological and contextual education for candidates. Seminary education is a period of theological, spiritual, and vocational formation. Faculty at seminaries are active in collaboration by participating in candidacy committee meetings, interviews, and providing feedback for candidacy committees. Seminaries make decisions on admission, administer financial aid, and communicate academic progress.
The Christian Community and Leadership (CCL) home area at the ELCA churchwide organization provides oversight and develops the candidacy process in the ELCA. Candidacy staff of the CCL home area work directly with candidacy committees and seminaries and are present for all major decisions of a candidacy committee. The CCL home area maintains an electronic database of candidate records submitted by candidacy committees.
While each partner in the candidacy process has a different role, together they work for the formation and preparation for candidates to the Ministry of Word and Service (deacons) or Word and Sacrament (pastors).