What Is Candidacy?

Candidacy is the process of approving rostered leaders for ministry in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Individuals begin candidacy after a time of discernment: hearing God’s call through their own life, and through conversation and encouragement by the wider faith community and pastor.

If you are considering rostered ministry in the ELCA, please contact Pastor Ken Sandlin at the C/SIS.

There are three stages to the candidacy process:



The official candidacy process begins when an individual contacts the synod office and begins to file necessary paperwork. This initial paperwork includes an application, essay, congregational registration, background check, and psychological evaluation. Once these steps are completed the individual interviews with a panel from the C/SIS candidacy committee. The committee makes a recommendation to the entire committee; the committee can deny, postpone, or give a positive entrance. The committee looks for a sense of discernment and openness to serving the Church.

Once entranced, a member of the candidacy committee is assigned to be the relator for that individual. The relator’s role is to walk alongside the candidate in their continued discernment and theological education over the next few years.



After roughly a third to half of seminary course-work is complete, as well as a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (usually chaplaincy) the candidate completes an essay describing their continued discernment and theological readiness for ministry. A panel of the candidacy committee, along with the candidate’s faculty advisor at seminary interviews the candidate about his/her readiness for ministry and ability to articulate what it means to be a leader in the Church. The panel makes a recommendation to the whole committee, who again vote to deny, postpone or give a positive endorsement.

Following endorsement, candidates for Word and Sacrament ministry complete a twelve-month internship.



Following internship and toward the completion of academic coursework, candidates are again asked to complete an essay and an interview with a panel of the candidacy committee. The committee expects candidates to have a strong sense of call, theological grounding, and have shown evidence of pastoral leadership through internship. The committee can again deny, postpone, or give positive approval.

Once approved, a candidate enters the assignment and call process of the ELCA; when the candidate has been called to serve a congregation, the candidacy committee ends its relationship and rejoices with that candidate!


Find out more about candidacy

Called to Lead - A Discernment Guide