“Our pastor has resigned.
What should we do first?
What help can we expect?
How can we grow through this change
and look forward to an even brighter
future with the arrival of a new pastor?”
This brochure has
been designed to help your congregation move thoughtfully, purposefully and
effectively throughout the pastoral call process.
“The gifts Christ gave were that some would be pastors to equip the saints
for the work of ministry, for the building up of the Body of Christ.”
Pastoral Leadership Transition
- Copy of the
letter of resignation is sent to the bishop.
- A synod
representative meets with the congregation president and the congregation
council to discuss the call process, the transition period and to assess the
- Closure with
the resigning pastor.
to the Bishop conducts an exit interview.
holds a farewell celebration.
makes clear to the congregation he/she is no longer available for pastoral
Interim Ministry Begins
- A synod
representative recommends interim pastor.
executive committee or council selects interim pastor and a contract is
negotiated and signed.
of the congregation needs is conducted.
council determines the call process to be used (Option A or B)
- Makeup and
appointment of call committee (usually 5 people) by council.
council approves a position description and the range of the benefits package
for the new pastor.
Call Committee’s Tasks
representative person meets with the congregation call committee to explain the
process and provide guidance on how to proceed.
Committee meets to determine the process they will use.
are presented to the call committee by the synod representative.
committee interviews the candidates.
congregation president, assistant to the bishop and candidates are notified once
the call committee decides on the candidate to recommend to the congregation.
committee presents the name of the candidate to the council for their review and
approval including the compensation package.
congregation meeting is called for a vote.
Call is Issued
- Congregation meeting is held to
approve the calling of the nominated candidate.
vote is needed for approval for a new candidate.
- An 85-90%
vote is recommended for a candidate already serving in the congregation.
- Candidate is notified of the vote.
- Letter of call is signed by congregational officers and forwarded
to the synod office.
- Bishop signs the letter of call and it is mailed to the candidate.
accepts the call.
(If pastor declines the call, go back to step 3.)
- Usually two
weeks before the new pastor is installed.
- An exit
interview is conducted.
service of farewell is held on last Sunday.
- New pastor
- Pastor is
installed by the bishop.
- A reception
is held to welcome the pastor and family.
- Follow up:
- Synod staff
members are available to meet with new pastor and members of the council to
assess start-up and ministry together.
“The Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America holds the congregation and the office of ordained ministry in high
regard. Consequently, this church body invests substantial resources in support
of the congregations during times of change in pastoral leadership.”
This brochure text provided by:
S.E. Pennsylvania Synod
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
506 Haws Ave.
Norristown, PA 19401
Additional Transition Resources