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Call Process & Compensation

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.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Call Process

A downloadable version suitable for printing

An Overview of the South Carolina Synod Call Process

We believe that the time of transition between leaders can be a spirit-led time of renewal for any congregation. Whenever transitions in leadership are taking place in our congregations it is important for both the Pastor or Deacon AND the Council President to have conversation with the Bishop or Assistant to the Bishop to discuss the plans for the transition. The Office of the Bishop is happy to assist you.

There are a number of Resources to guide church leaders through Transition in our Congregational Transition Packet Resources. This is available on our website and we encourage everyone to review it carefully. We also have a narrated Power Point about the Call Process which is available on our website as well. This Power Point can be viewed any number of times and is extremely helpful to congregations and their leaders.

Basic Call Process Steps

Step 1. A Healthy Exit of the Current Leader.
Pastor and Council President have conversation with Bishop.
Pastor and Council complete any obligations to one another.

Step 2. Transition Packet Resources are shared
Congregational records updated and certified to synod.
Financial obligations between Rostered leader and congregation are finalized.
Farewell event and clarification of expectations happens.

Step 3. Supply Pastors are scheduled for weeks prior to Interim Pastor’s arrival.
Assistance for this scheduling comes from the Office of the Bishop.

Step 4. Bishop appoints an Interim.
Council works with Interim to finalize details of Interim Covenant and Compensation Agreement.
Interim Pastor serves a Congregation in the areas of Pastoral responsibilities of Word and Sacrament ministry and also to works together with Council and Congregation on the Resources in the Transition Packet. There are several resources that will need everyone’s attention and should take time and careful attention in helping to prepare the congregation for the calling of the next pastor.

Step 5. Bishop/ Assistant to the Bishop meets with Council to discuss the call process.
This meeting takes place after the Interim Pastor has had some time to settle into the ministry with the council and congregation.

Step 6. The Council conducts the Congregational Vitality Survey.
Once the Survey results come in, the Office of the Bishop schedules a meeting date to visit with the Congregation to share the results and to discuss questions about Call process.

Step 7. The Congregational Council (or their designated appointees) begin working on the
Ministry Site Profile, and once finalized, submit the MSP online and share it with their Congregation and with the Bishop/Assistant to the Bishop.
The Ministry Site Profile (MSP) can be accessed online at www.elca.org/call click on MSP and follow instructions for completion.

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

Step 9. The Office of the Bishop is using the MSP and results of the CVS to research best possible fits of Pastors or Deacons who may interview for this call. This research is centered in prayer and the leaders who are considered are spoken to directly before the Bishop/Assistant brings names and profiles to the Call Committee.

Step 10. The Office of the Bishop meets with the Call Committee; Committee may receive names of candidates and begin the interview process. The Call Committee interviews candidates, remains in contact with the Bishop’s Office.

Step 11. The Call Committee determines one candidate to focus upon and asks that Pastor/Deacon if they are willing to be the Primary Candidate. A

Step 12. When the Candidate agrees to be the primary candidate, the Call committee asks the council President to call a special meeting of Council.

Step 13. Representatives from Council and the Call Committee meet with the Candidate to discuss and finalize the Compensation package that would be offered if their call is issued.

Step 14. The Council interviews the Candidate, and votes whether to recommend this pastor/deacon to the Congregation for a vote to call. The Council also sets a Congregational meeting date according to the constitutional provisions of that church. Council also sends notice about the Pastor with a brief bio and the compensation package information to the congregation.

Step 15. Council arranges for a Meet and Greet Fellowship for the Congregation and the potential Pastor or Deacon to have a chance to meet one another and have some conversation before the vote.

Step 16. At the called Congregational Meeting the council counts number of eligible members present to vote and shares some background on this pastor and on the compensation package, as well as answers any questions that come up. Two yes or no votes are taken in writing: the first is a vote to extend a call to this pastor, and the second on the compensation package. 2/3s vote is needed for the call to pass. Simple majority is needed on the compensation.

Step 17. All numbers are reported to the Pastor, the Congregation and the Bishop.

Step 18. The Candidate accepts call and notifies in writing the Congregation and the Office of the Bishop of their start date.

Step 19. The Congregation bids farewell and celebrates the work of their Interim Pastor. Sometimes Supply Pastors are scheduled for a few weeks between the leaving of the Interim and the arrival of the newly called Pastor.

Step 20. The new Pastor arrives and gets settled into this new call.
The new Pastor contacts the Conference Dean to schedule a date and time for Installation. This is generally held on a Sunday afternoon so that the Conference Dean and fellow clergy may attend.

Congregational Transition Packet Recource H: Interims

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

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.

Congregational Transition Packet Resource B: The Ethics of Pastoral Transition

Congregational Transition Packet Resource B: The Ethics of Pastoral Transition

Compensation Resources

South Carolina Synod 2021 Compensation Guidelines for Rostered Ministers

Approved by the 2020 Synod Assembly

Excel Worksheet - 2021 Compensation Guidelines for Rostered Ministers of Word and Sacrament With Housing Allowance

Approved by the 2020 Synod Assembly
Microsoft Excel Format

Excel Worksheet - 2021 Compensation Guidelines for Rostered Ministers of Word and Sacrament With Parsonage

Approved by the 2020 Synod Assembly
Microsoft Excel Format

Excel Worksheet - 2021 Compensation Guidelines for Rostered Ministers of Word and Service

Approved by the 2020 Synod Assembly
Microsoft Excel Format

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Contact Information

ELCA South Carolina Synod
1003 Richland Street
Columbia, SC 29201
Telephone 803-765-0590
Fax 803-252-5558

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