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Congregational Call Process

The Grand Canyon Synod office has prepared three important documents to assist congregations and call committees in understanding the process of calling a rostered leader in this synod:

Call Process Manual

This manual contains detailed information concerning the Call Process (i.e., developing a Ministry Site Profile; forming a call committee; interviewing candidates and making a final decision). View the manual as PDF.

Pastoral Leadership Transition Steps

A resource for congregations to help your congregation move thoughtfully, purposefully and effectively through the pastoral call process. View online or download as a Word document.


Available in word documents.


The time of calling a pastor or a deacon can be a special time for reflection and prayer in the life of a congregation.

This time of transition is an opportunity for the Congregational Leadership to provide encouragement, trust in God, unity and spiritual growth. Prayer, bible study, and regular devotions keep the leadership spiritually centered as it guides the congregation in grieving its loss, assessing the current congregational strengths and weaknesses, creating a vision for mission and ministry, and calling a new pastor.

We are all ministers in whatever daily activity we take up.

What is a “Call?”

At the heart of our Lutheran theology is something Martin Luther termed "the priesthood of all believers." In our baptism God has called us all to be part of the body of Christ. Luther reminded us of the Latin origin of the word "vocation" - vocare - which means, "to call." All of us take up our vocations - our callings - as God's people. We are all ministers in whatever daily activity we take up. Within this priesthood of all believers the church has created an order for affirming particular calls to serve God’s divine mission in the world. These particular calls are Ministers of Word and Sacrament" (pastor) and Ministers of Word and Service” (deacon). 

On the basis of our Lutheran theology, a pastor or deacon is called, not hired, to serve a congregation, agency, or other officially called ministry. The call process is not the same as the hiring process in other parts of society. Any process that seems to focus on “head hunting,” resumé shuffling, or high anxiety interviews is missing the point in the calling of a pastor or deacon. A call is one element in the church’s seeking and following God’s movement into the future. A call is about discerning the leading of the Holy Spirit in the work of ministry. 

The call process is not a pageant, in which contestants present themselves to their best advantage so they will be the winners. 

The Lutheran call process is unique because it is an effort to discern what God wants for the local church and for the whole church in order that the Gospel may be proclaimed, the sacraments administered in accordance with the Gospel, and the people are equipped to live out their vocations in the world.

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 Guidelines for Ordained Ministers Serving in Interim Ministry

Pastoral Leadership Transition Steps


A resource for congregations


These steps are designed to help your congregation move thoughtfully, purposefully and effectively through the pastoral call process.

Whenever a pastoral transition occurs, congregations in the Grand Canyon Synod will seek to utilize the gifts of trained intentional interims when offered and available;

The Grand Canyon Synod will seek to provide scholarships for pastoral candidates who have been approved for interim training; and

The Grand Canyon Synod will provide mutual support and encouragement for all trained interim pastors within the synod.

— Grand Canyon Synod 2008 Assembly Resolution on the “Affirmation of the Use of Trained Intentional Interims”

1. Your Pastor Resigns or Retires

  1. Your pastor notifies the Bishop of his or her intent to resign/retire.

  2. Your pastor notifies the congregation and sends a copy of resignation/retirement to the Bishop.

  3. The Bishop meets with the congregation council to discuss the interim ministry during the pastoral vacancy and explains the call process.

  4. The congregation council or Mutual Ministry Committee conducts an exit interview with the pastor. The congregation holds a farewell celebration. The pastor makes it clear that she/he will have no pastoral duties subsequent to the resignation/ retirement.

  5. The synod assists the congregation council with pulpit supply for the two to four-week period until an interim pastor begins.

2. Interim Ministry Begins

  1. The Bishop appoints an interim pastor.

  2. The council meets with the appointed interim and gives its endorsement. A Letter of Agreement is signed and the Compensation Form completed and both are forwarded to the Bishop for his or her signature. Interims normally receive the compensation package of the previous pastor.

  3. The interim pastor will not be available for call by the congregation.

  4. The interim pastor cares for the congregation and leads it in a review of the past and current state while anticipating the future. He or she leads the congregation through the five developmental tasks of the interim time in ministry.

  5. The council, in consultation with the Bishop, appoints a task force that is responsible for completing the Ministry Site Profile. (Available to complete online at

  6. The council reviews the constitutional requirements for the selection of a Call Committee and recommends names for congregational approval. A congregational vote ratifies that recommendation and Call Committee members are seated.

3. Call Committee Tasks

  1. The Bishop meets with the Call Committee to provide information on the call process.

  2. The Call Committee reviews the Profile and sends it to the synod office.

  3. The Synod Mobility Team evaluates congregational openings and reviews potential candidates.

  4. Congregational members who identify potential candidates contact them and request that, if interested, they have mobility papers forwarded from their synod office to the Grand Canyon Synod office.

  5. The Bishop contacts potential candidates and forwards the Profile for their review.

  6. The Bishop presents names of candidates to the Call Committee.

  7. The Call Committee interviews candidates. Candidates not chosen to proceed in the call process are informed and released from consideration.

  8. The Call Committee recommends a candidate for Call and notifies the congregation president and the Bishop. The Call Committee presents its formal recommendation to the council.

  9. The congregation president finalizes discussion of the compensation package with the candidate and calls for a congregational meeting. It is important to notify the Bishop of the date of this meeting to allow time for the Letter of Call to be prepared and forwarded to the congregation.

4. The Congregation Calls a Pastor

  1. A congregational meeting is held to approve the calling of the nominated candidate.

  2. A two-thirds vote is required to call the candidate as pastor.

  3. A simple majority vote is required to approve the compensation package.

  4. The candidate is notified of the vote by the congregational president.

  5. The Letter of Call is signed by the congregation president and secretary and is sent to the synod office for the Bishop’s signature.

  6. The compensation form is signed by the congregational president and secretary and the newly called pastor. A copy is sent to the synod office.

  7. The Bishop reviews the compensation package, signs the Letter of Call and forwards it to the newly called pastor.

 5. Your New Pastor Begins

  1. The pastor accepts the call and then notifies the congregation and Bishop in writing.

  2. The interim pastor usually leaves two weeks before the new pastor arrives. A farewell service and reception is held on the interim pastor’s last Sunday. The synod assists with Sunday supply during the time before your new pastor arrives.

  3. The Bishop installs your new pastor as soon after arrival as possible.

  4. The congregation hosts a reception to welcome your new pastor and her/his family.

  5. The synod office hosts a synod orientation and boundaries workshop for new pastors annually.

  6. The synod office is available for continual support of the congregation and pastor as they begin their ministry together.