Virginia - Western Maryland Synod
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Pastoral Transition & Vacancy
Exit ~ Vacancy ~ Call Process
This page (a work in process) provides information
related to pastoral transition and vacancy, addressing
these matters in three sections: exit of a pastor, vacancy
(the time between regularly called pastors), and call
process. You will find here numerous downloadable
resources. If anything is unclear, please fell free to contact the bishop.
There are many steps to the exit process with pastor,
council officers, and the bishop/dean each participating
at different points. The following chart lays out the
recommended sequence of activity and who in the process
has responsibility in each step. Also included are the
download links for the relevant documents. The bishop may
delegate some duties to the dean of the conference.
Here is some additional information about each of the documents mentioned. Everything here deals with pastors; once we have deacons under call in the synod, we'll develop documents appropriate to that roster of clergy.
Who's going to preach? Who will visit the shut-ins? What
happens if someone ends up in the hospital? These and many
other questions are raised when ever a congregation faces
pastoral vacancy. To help address these questions the
following are provided.
How this is answered may depend upon the appointment of
the interim pastor. Refer to the Handbook for Pastoral
Vacancy in the Congregation (supra) for discussion
and details. If the interim is not the regular preacher
(which is usually the case), one may find a list of supply preachers here.
There are two subsections here: one for congregations
related to Ministry Site Profile development and the other
for pastors. For general
information, how-to documents, and search tools, you may
find the ELCA's webpage on call process
The Model Constitution for Congregations of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America states,
*C9.01. ...Before a call is issued, the officers, or a committee elected by [this congregation][the Congregation Council] to recommend the call, shall seek the advice and help of the bishop of the synod.
Normally, the bishop will initiate this conversation when first meeting with the Congregation Council in connection to the beginning of a pastoral vacancy. The bishop will explain process and timeline, providing resources to assist the congregation and answering what will be the first round of questions. There is no need for the congregation to get ahead of this consultation.
The committee referenced is the Call Committee. The
recommended provision of The Model states,
C13.05. When a vacancy occurs in a position for which this congregation calls a rostered minister, a Call Committee of six voting members shall be elected by [this congregation] [the Congregation Council]. Term of office will terminate upon installation of the newly called rostered minister.
While it is the right of the congregation to elect a call committee upon the inception of the pastoral vacancy, the bishop recommends that an initial consultation with council take place prior to doing so. There are different ways to go about developing a Ministry Site Profile along with other items to take into consideration prior to electing a call committee.
Regardless of where and with whom the development and
ultimate approval of the Ministry Site Profile is vested,
a Ministry Site Profile will be requested by the bishop to
facilitate the search. ELCA.org provides several online
Issuing the Call
We're still working on this section. Check back again.
Here are some documents that you should be looking at as part of transition into a new call. Everything here deals with pastors; once we have a congregation exploring the call of a deacon, we'll develop documents appropriate to that roster of clergy.
West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod, ℅ St. Paul Lutheran Church, 309 Baldwin Street, Morgantown, WV 26505
304-363-4030 + Porter@WV-WMD.org