February 2017: What is Candidacy?


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Candidacy: What is it?

By Rev. Emily Carson


We all have unique gifts and abilities, and God calls all of us to use our time, talents, and passions in ways that reflect the love of our Creator. Some people discern that they want to serve God by becoming rostered leaders.

Within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the designation of “rostered leader” includes people who serve in a variety of environments. Rostered leaders often serve as parish pastors, but they can also live out their calling as specialized ministers and deacons in congregations, nursing homes, schools, and hospitals. There are two approved rosters in the ELCA: Word and Service & Word and Sacrament.

One of the core functions of the Southeastern Minnesota Synod is to partner with people who take the road that leads to rostered leadership. The process is called candidacy.

The candidacy process describes the journey of an individual from the moment he/she decides to become a rostered leader to the moment he/she is consecrated (for Word and Service) or ordained (for Word and Sacrament). The candidacy process is a group effort and involves the ministry candidate, the seminary, and the synod’s Committee on Candidacy.

Our synod’s Committee on Candidacy is comprised of eleven individuals including lay leaders and rostered leaders. They meet periodically during the year to accompany ministry candidates throughout the candidacy process.

The two Office of the Bishop staff members most involved in the candidacy process are Mary Kay DuChene, Assistant to the Bishop for Faith Formation, Candidacy, and Leadership, and Kari MacIver, Executive Administrator – Candidacy and First Call Administrator.

About the life-giving nature of her work, DuChene reflects, “It is an amazing gift to listen to the faith stories of people when they begin candidacy. It reminds me every time that God is at work in the world in creative and brave ways. I appreciate the passion with which candidates talk about the gospel and ministry in general.”

MacIver finds this piece of her synod responsibilities to be energizing as well. “As the administrative support for the seminary students and the synod’s Committee on Candidacy, I get the pleasure of working directly with the students as they go through the process. I love accompanying them on this journey! It is amazing to see the growth they exhibit.”

Are you interested in rostered church leadership? Do you know someone who might be a great candidate? Are you interested in learning more about the candidacy process? DuChene believes that it is up to all of us to identify good candidates for ministry and let them know. She shares, “People need you to encourage them. Most people who are called to ministry ignore their first inklings from God. They need you to tell them you see their gifts for ministry. They need you to suggest to them that they would make a great pastor or deacon. If you feel someone has a gift for rostered ministry, tell them! And thank you for doing so!” To learn more about our synod’s candidacy process, visit http://semnsynod.org/candidacy. You can also contact MacIver (maciver@semnsynod.org) or DuChene (duchene@semnsynod.org) for additional information.

Rev. Emily Carson serves as the Director of Communications for the Southeastern Minnesota Synod.

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