in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
and the Northern Great Lakes Synod
Or “How to Become a Lutheran Pastor”

  1. Candidate contacts the Synod Office to let us know of your interest and your plans. (Bishop Katherine Finegan, at or 906-228-2300).
  2. The candidate contacts his/her pastor to complete the Congregational Registration for a Candidacy Applicant at: click here to download.  Download the form, print it off, complete it, and then either scan it and send it as an attachment or send it via the U.S. Mail to the NGLS office (1029 N. Third St. Suite A, Marquette, MI  49855).
  3. The candidate completes the Application for Entrance to Candidacy.  This form is submitted electronically.  The candidate may enter a password to lock it when it is completed and then submit. The Synod Office will receive a link to the completed form and we have our own password to open it. click here to download.
  4. An INITIAL INTERVIEW is scheduled with the candidate.  A member of the Candidacy Committee conducts this interview.  The candidate should contact the chair of the Candidacy Committee, Marcy Kaven at or to make arrangements.
  5. Candidacy Process Fee of $900.00 is paid to the Northern Great Lakes Synod.  Some candidates cover the entire expense.  Some split the cost with their home congregations. If the candidate’s home congregation wishes to cover $450.00 of this expense, they may send it along with the Congregational Letter of Registration or soon thereafter.
  6. Know that the Northern Great Lakes Synod invests much in each candidate.  While holding you in prayer, the Synod also contributes financially.  Your $900.00 covers only a portion of candidacy expenses which can exceed $1600.00.
  7. The Synod Office arranges a Background Check on the candidate. The Synod Office covers this expense.
  8. The Synod Office helps the candidate arrange for a psychological evaluation.  The Synod Office covers this expense.  Candidates can schedule an evaluation after they receive the psychologist’s contact info.
  9. ENTRANCE INTERVIEW.  The candidate is interviewed by the Candidacy Committee.  Ideally, this takes place before seminary classes begin.  Sometime during steps 1-7 the candidate will be applying to an ELCA seminary and making arrangements for how coursework will be completed.
  10. The candidate begins their Seminary Theological Education. After Year 1 is completed, it is expected that they will begin a CPE unit (Clinical Pastoral Education).  The candidate’s seminary will provide resources and guidance to make these arrangements.
  11. At the beginning of Year 2, the candidate will complete an Endorsement Essay.  More information and the Endorsement Essay form can be downloaded at: click here to download
  12. ENDORSEMENT PANEL INTERVIEW.  In the fall of Year 2, the candidate will be interviewed at their seminary by two members of the Candidacy Committee and a faculty member of the seminary.  This interview is arranged by the Candidacy Committee in cooperation with the seminary.
  13. The candidate completes Year 2, their Internship Year, and begins Year 4.  During that time, Internship evaluations will be submitted.
  14. The candidate completes an Approval Essay.  All evaluations and Seminary Faculty reports are submitted and received by the Candidacy Committee.
  15. APPROVAL INTERVIEW.  In the Fall or Winter of Year 4, the candidate is interviewed by the Candidacy Committee.
  16. The candidate completes Year 4 and begins the Assignment Process.

At the Initial Interview, the Entrance Interview, the Endorsement Interview, and the Approval Interview, the candidate will receive one of three possible decisions:
Approval – The candidate has met all requirements and is approved to continue the process.

Postponement  – For reasons that are evident to the Candidacy Committee, and are shared with the candidate, the decision is made to hold the candidate’s advancement in the process at this time.

Denial – For reasons that are evident to the Candidacy Committee, and are shared with the candidate, the candidate is denied the opportunity to continue with the process at this time.  Know that this decision is not made lightly.  Rather the Candidacy Committee takes very seriously their call to discern whether or not a candidate is suitable for ministry, both for the sake of the church, and for the sake of the potential candidate.

Bishop Finegan’s Cohabitation Letter
2021 ELCA Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline

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