General Candidacy Requirements
For students who are candidates for ordination in the ELCA, PLTS follows the procedures for candidacy prepared by the ELCA.
A seminary’s role in the ELCA candidacy process is as follows:
Seminaries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) are important partners in the candidacy process. Every candidacy committee includes an ELCA seminary faculty representative. ELCA seminaries make recommendations to the candidacy committees concerning the approval of each candidate for rostered ministry and provide evaluative materials to the candidacy committee and the Department for Synodical Relations/Conference of Bishops.
For seminarians who are candidates for rostered ministry in the ELCA, PLTS follows the procedures for candidacy adopted by the ELCA in the 2016 Candidacy Manual. The procedures are based upon the belief that candidates for rostered ministry are candidates for the church as a whole and will be available for service throughout the entire church. Both standards and processes attend to the person holistically, including physical, emotional, academic, theological, and spiritual dimensions. The process provides ongoing evaluation and support for seminarians throughout their seminary education. The candidacy committee maintains contact with the candidate, and the candidate should be sure to check in with the candidacy committee on a regular basis, especially when considering candidacy or programmatic changes.
Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM) publishes a rich array of resources to advise and support potential and current LGBTQQIA+ candidates starting or continuing in the ELCA candidacy process. If you have questions, need advice, and/or require support, please do not hesitate to reach out to ELM staff; our PLTS ELM Seminary Advocate; and Student Affairs.
PLTS has designed its programs of preparation in concert with ELCA candidacy requirements and with an emphasis on facilitating the candidate’s completion of as many of these candidacy requirements (including supervised field education hours and spiritual direction) while the candidate is enrolled in a course of study at PLTS.
The following outline key stages of the candidacy process:
Discernment: PLTS recommends that all considering candidacy in the ELCA initiate contact with their synodical candidacy coordinator as early as possible in order to determine how their synod engages candidates in a period of discernment prior to entrance. Ideally, this would begin about one year before a candidate desires to start seminary
Entrance: Before or early in their admissions application process, candidates begin the candidacy entrance process. PLTS normally receives a positive entrance decision in tandem with the admissions process. An applicant who has entered, but not yet completed, the entrance step in candidacy may be admitted by PLTS. A positive entrance decision is required prior to placement in any supervised field experience/project/internship. A positive entrance decision does not guarantee seminary admission. A seminary may deny admission for academic or other reasons.
Accompaniment Conversation: At the beginning of each candidate’s first year of seminary, representatives of the candidate’s synodical candidacy committee and academic advisor have a conversation with the candidate in order to develop an agreed-upon program and candidacy requirements timeline.
Endorsement Recommendation: Prior to proceeding with scheduling of an endorsement interview, the faculty review each candidate and make a recommendation to proceed with endorsement, postpone endorsement, or deny endorsement based on the candidate’s preparation and overall formation to-date.
Endorsement Interview: In each candidate’s second year of seminary (1/3 of program completed), representatives of the candidate’s synodical candidacy committee and academic advisor conduct an interview with the candidate, including consideration of Clinical Pastoral Education evaluations and an endorsement essay written by the candidate. The interview leads to the decision by the candidacy committee to grant, postpone, or deny endorsement of the candidate for supervised field experience/project/internship. Note that denial of endorsement by the candidacy committee without a specific recommendation to the contrary will not affect termination of studies in the MDiv program should the seminarian elect to continue in consultation with the Office of the Dean.
Recommendation Interview: Toward the end of internship or project, each candidate writes an approval essay. The candidate meets with a faculty panel for an interview. The panel considers the candidate’s approval essay, internship/project evaluations, and overall experience. The interview focuses on theological preparedness, gifts and skills for ministry, and ministry vision utilizing ELCA competencies. The panel makes a recommendation to the whole faculty.
Faculty Recommendation: In executive session of the faculty meeting, the whole faculty consider the panel recommendation to grant, postpone, or deny. This recommendation reflects the suitability of the candidate for rostered leadership from the perspective of faith heritage and ministry preparation for leadership in the ELCA. Faculty recommendation for approval is forwarded to the candidacy committee as a separate assessment with permission of the candidate. The recommendation is also forwarded to churchwide in preparation for assignment with permission of the candidate.
Approval Interview: The candidate then meets with the candidacy committee in their synod for an approval interview based on the approval essay, faculty recommendation, internship/project evaluations, and overall experience. The candidacy committee grants, postpones, or denies approval for rostered leadership.
Assignment: The candidates submits online forms in preparation for a churchwide assignment process for approved candidates in which candidates are assigned to a region and synod based on the ministry needs of the church. They are then available for a Letter of Call for service in the ELCA.
Call: Ordination or consecration itself depends upon receipt and acceptance of a Letter of Call. The ELCA cannot guarantee that a candidate who has prepared and received approval will receive a call. The personal, academic, and character expectations for seminarians and clergy can be found in Vision and Expectations, an official ELCA policy document available online for ordained ministers and rostered lay ministers.More information on the ELCA candidacy process
PLTS Student Life and provides students preparing for rostered leadership with the following practical assistance:
- Candidacy conversation following new seminarian orientation to clarify candidacy questions and concerns as needed;
- An official logsheet to track supervised field education hours and spiritual direction hours (candidates should file a copy of these hours with the Office of the Dean on a monthly or semester basis. These copies will be kept in the candidate’s candidacy file as a backup copy of proof of fulfillment of these candidacy requirements should the logbook go missing.);
- Assistance in securing a copy of entrance decision from the synod as necessary;
- Information for obtaining ELCA endorsement and approval essay materials;
- Necessary information regarding endorsement and approval essay submission and due date requirements;
- Scheduling of on-campus candidates’ endorsement interviews;
- Information in writing (electronic or hardcopy) regarding a candidate’s scheduled endorsement interview time, date, and location;
- Assistance in developing an overall approval and assignment plan prior to internship;
- Assistance with questions regarding assignment paperwork related to deadlines and contact information; and,
- Seminary representation of candidates at Assignment.