Scroll Top

Am I Called?

Pastors and deacons are rostered ministers of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America called to serve in congregations and other ministry settings. Every rostered minister goes through theological training and a candidacy process. The candidacy process raises up, prepares, certifies and places public leaders in the ELCA. Family, friends, congregations, ministry organizations, synods, seminaries, and staff from the churchwide organization all play important roles in this process.

Do you have a sense that God may be calling you to serve as a rostered minister in the ELCA? We welcome the opportunity to help you with your discernment, and explore what opportunities are available to you for preparation and serving in a leadership role. If you are considering rostered ministry in the ELCA, please contact Pastor Amy Ziettlow, assistant to the bishop for transformational leadership (217-753-7915,

Stages of the Candidacy Process


The official candidacy process begins when an individual contacts the synod office and begins to file the 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 the seminary coursework 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 the 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 an 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 an 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!

Additional Guides