Call Process

Frequently Asked Questions about the Call Process

How long will it take to find a pastor?
Every Call Process varies in length. It will normally take between 6 months and 1 year, but some last longer. The length of the process depends on the number of candidates interviewed; the time call committee and candidates have available for conversation, and the needs of the congregation for grieving and preparation for the next pastor.

What will the congregation do during this time of transition regarding pastoral leadership?
In a pastoral vacancy, the Office of Bishop, in consultation with the congregation council, will appoint an Interim Pastor who will, at a minimum, lead worship/preach (or arrange for this leadership) weekly, meet with the Council each month, and provide emergency pastoral care. The responsibilities of the Interim Pastor will vary and may range from a few hours a week to full-time, depending on the availability of the Interim Pastor and the needs of the Congregation. A letter of agreement is signed between the council and the Pastor that explains exactly what the Interim Pastor will be doing during this time. Sample agreements are available from the Bishop’s Office.

What are the sources of names provided by the Office of Bishop to the Call Committee?
The names of the candidates come from a variety of places, including:

  • Pastors from South Carolina Synod asking to be available for conversation with Call Committees and having submitted their Rostered Leader Profile.
  • Pastors from other synods who have asked that their Rostered Leader Profile be shared with congregations in South Carolina. Please note that Candidates from outside South Carolina must be given clearance by their Synodical Bishop to our bishop before they can be considered for an interview.
  • Pastors identified by the Bishop and Bishop’s staff as particularly suited for a congregation.
  • Recent seminary graduates awaiting their first Call.
  • Pastors suggested by members of the Congregation can also be shared with our office to look into as potential candidates.
Will there be Pastors willing to talk with our Call Committee?
The answer is almost always “yes.” In highly specialized situations or in part time ministry opportunities there may be fewer candidates to consider; however, in general, the Holy Spirit is able to bring gifts and needs together. Should we follow compensation guidelines? Yes. While not every congregation is able to reach or exceed the recommended figures, the guidelines serve as benchmarks to guide congregations and candidates in helpful conversation regarding what is fair and adequate. Please keep in mind that as of this printing our Minimum Compensation Guidelines are for First Call and do not take into account years of experience which some Pastors bring. If compensation is far below guidelines, fewer candidates may be able to consider the Call to a particular congregation – a part-time Call should be explored.

Can we invite the candidates to preach in our congregation on a Sunday morning?
No. It is better for the call committee to travel and interview without spouses since spouses have not been selected to participate in the call process. Committee members need the freedom to interact with complete confidentiality as those chosen to represent the congregation.

Should the congregation expect there to be expenses related to the work of the call committee?
Yes. Mileage reimbursement to committee members AND to any candidates who interview with your committee can be expected. The committee may also have receipts for expenses related to meals or refreshments provided. We recommend that you use the standard IRS mileage rate for reimbursement. Often councils will designate the expenses of the call committee and the process out of any remainder left in your pastoral compensation package.

Should there be alternate members of the Call Committee?
We do not recommend alternate members; however, if alternates are elected or appointed, they should attend all meetings of the call committee and have voice, but should not vote unless a regular member of the committee finds it necessary to relinquish his or her position.

What if we have additional questions?
If at any time during the call process you have questions, concerns, or ideas, please feel free to communicate with the member of the Bishop’s Staff that is coordinating the Call Process with your congregation.

Steps in the Call Process

We believe the call process for any congregation is a “Spirit-led time of renewal.” It is our general custom to set an initial meeting between the Congregational Council and the Bishop or one of the Assistants to the Bishop to review the steps of the Call Process. At that time a copy of the South Carolina Synod Call Process Manual, A Spirit Led Time of Renewal, will be given to your Congregational Council. This Manual should be passed on to the Chair of your Call Committee once he or she is named. (Note: Most of these steps also pertain to calling a lay Rostered leader.)

Step 1. A Rostered leader always consults with the Bishop and turns in updated mobility paperwork before engaging in a Call process with another congregation.

Step 2. When a Rostered leader accepts a new Call he or she submits a letter of resignation to the Congregational Council at a called Council Meeting; The Letter of Resignation is copied and distributed to the Bishop’s office and to the Congregation along with a letter of acceptance from Council including any plans being made for a farewell event if those are known.

Step 3. Pastor and Council complete any obligations to one another (parochial records updated and certified to synod; any financial obligations between Rostered leader and congregation).

Step 4. An exit interview for the Rostered Leader led by Congregational Leaders may be helpful.

Step 5. Farewell event and clarification of expectations.

Step 6. The Office of Bishop conducts a Congregational Council visit, including setting a date for the “Congregational Event.”

Step 7. The Congregational Council works with Bishop’s office for selection of Interim Pastor.

Step 8. The Call Committee is established according to constitutional provision 13.05.

Step 9a. The Office of the Bishop provides leadership for a “Spirit-led Time of Renewal Congregational Event.”

Step 9b. The Congregation is asked to set up and participate in “Healthy Congregations” Workshop #1. Workshops # 2 & # 3 are highly recommended as follow up for each congregation in call process. Workshop # 3 is designed to be done a few months after your new pastor is settled into this new call. See the final Appendix page for the Healthy Congregations brochure and information.
Step 10. The Call Committee develops and submits to the Bishop’s office a “Ministry Site Profile” and a compilation of the data collected at the Congregational Event. The Ministry Site Profile (MSP) can be accessed online at www.elca.org/call click on MSP and follow instructions for completion. If you have questions about the form please feel free to call the Synod Office for assistance.

Step 11. The Office of the Bishop enters into a time of intentional prayer and discernment to find and determine potential candidates to offer your Call Committee for interviews.

Step 12. The Office of the Bishop meets with the Call Committee; Committee may receive names of candidates and begin the interview process.

Step 13. The Call Committee interviews candidates, remains in contact with the Bishop’s Office and ultimately recommends a pastor to the Council; The Council interviews and recommends the Candidate to the Congregation and sets a Congregational meeting date.

Step 14. Congregation votes to extend a call to this pastor, and on a second ballot votes on the compensation package; The Candidate accepts call and notifies congregation and the Office of the Bishop of their start date.

Step 15. The new Pastor is installed by a representative of the Office of Bishop on an agreed upon Sunday.

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A Spirit Led Time of Renewal (Includes Compensation Guidelines)

The South Carolina Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Call Process Manual with Appendices. Includes Rostered Leader Compensation Guidelines.


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2018 Compensation Guidelines for Rostered Ministers

2018 Compensation Guidelines for Rostered Ministers


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2018 Clergy Compensation Worksheet - Living in a Parsonage

2018 Clergy Compensation Worksheet - Living in a Parsonage


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2018 Clergy Compensation Worksheet - with Housing Allowance

2018 Clergy Compensation Worksheet - with Housing Allowance


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2018 Rostered Lay Leader Worksheet

2018 Rostered Lay Leader Worksheet


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Ethics: A Sensitive Matter

This article deals with the sensitive matter is of pastors being asked for pastoral acts by people who are their former parishioners. With our synod being as geographically compact as it is, we may face this issue more frequently than other parts of the church.


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Frequently Asked Questions about the Call Process

Frequently Asked Questions about the Call Process


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Sample Interim Contract

A sample contract for an interim pastor in the South Carolina Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America