Pastoral Transition

Pastoral Transition

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“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.”

Ephesians 4:11-12

Pastoral Leadership Transition Steps


Process Begins

  1. Copy of the letter of resignation is sent to the bishop.
  2. A synod representative meets with the congregation president and the congregation council to discuss the call process, the transition period and to assess the interim needs.
  3. Closure with the resigning pastor.
    1. Assistant to the Bishop conducts an exit interview.
    2. Congregation holds a farewell celebration.
    3. Pastor makes clear to the congregation he/she is no longer available for pastoral duties there.


Interim Ministry Begins

  1. A synod representative recommends interim pastor.
  2. Congregation executive committee or council selects interim pastor and a contract is negotiated and signed.
  3. Assessment of the congregation needs is conducted.
  4. Congregation council determines the call process to be used (Option A or B)
  5. Makeup and appointment of call committee (usually 5 people) by council.
  6. Congregation council approves a position description and the range of the benefits package for the new pastor.


Call Committee’s Tasks

  1. Synod representative person meets with the congregation call committee to explain the process and provide guidance on how to proceed.
  2. Call Committee meets to determine the process they will use.
  3. Candidates are presented to the call committee by the synod representative.
  4. Call committee interviews the candidates.
  5. The congregation president, assistant to the bishop and candidates are notified once the call committee decides on the candidate to recommend to the congregation.
  6. Call committee presents the name of the candidate to the council for their review and approval including the compensation package.
  7. A congregation meeting is called for a vote.


Call is Issued

  1. Congregation meeting is held to approve the calling of the nominated candidate.
    1. Two-thirds vote is needed for approval for a new candidate.
    2. An 85-90% vote is recommended for a candidate already serving in the congregation.
  2. Candidate is notified of the vote.
  3. Letter of call is signed by congregational officers and forwarded to the synod office.
  4. Bishop signs the letter of call and it is mailed to the candidate.


Process Concludes

  1. Pastor accepts the call.
    (If pastor declines the call, go back to step 3.)
  2. Interim pastor leaves:
    1. Usually two weeks before the new pastor is installed.
    2. An exit interview is conducted.
    3. Brief service of farewell is held on last Sunday.
  3. New pastor arrives:
    1. Pastor is installed by the bishop.
    2. A reception is held to welcome the pastor and family.
  4. Follow up:
    1. 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.”

ELCA Interim Guidelines

This brochure text provided by:

S.E. Pennsylvania Synod
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
506 Haws Ave.
Norristown, PA 19401
(610) 278-9400

Additional Transition Resources

LGLC Home Up Next

 Living God Lutheran Church
3200 Horseshoe Pike
Honey Brook, PA 19344-8685
Tel: (610)273-9383     FAX: (610)273-7019
General email:
Pastor's email: Use the email above while in transition.
See Contact Form for additional contact options
Copyright 2004-2019 Living God Lutheran Church

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