God calls us through many means during our whole lives, and we can respond in various ways at various times. So how do we figure out what God is calling us to do now with our lives? Accompanying people as they ponder and discern this question is the work of the Candidacy Committee. As the Christian Church participates in God’s mission in the world, there is a renewed awareness that God is making all things new. As both the Church and its contexts for ministry change, so do the leadership needs of the Church.
The ELCA candidacy process is meant to be a welcoming and joyful opportunity for people to discern how to serve in and through the church. It is a formalized, yet personally and relationally focused, journey that assists people in discernment for church leadership. Discernment is a life-long process which continually assesses how God may be calling a person into ministry. It is a means for determining who might serve as a rostered leader, as well as who might serve in a variety of lay leadership roles in the church or in the world. Through congregational involvement, mentoring, working with a Candidacy Committee, and engaging in theological education, a person arrives at a sense of the kind of leader God is calling them to be.
Anyone discerning a call to rostered ministry is encouraged to attend the Vocations Conference in August of each year – the sooner in your discernment, the better equipped you will be to prayerfully consider how God is calling you to use your faith gifts through your vocational call.
The Virginia Synod Vocations Conference allows persons who are wondering what professional ministry in the church is like to spend time with those who have experience within the church. It allows time for reflection, conversations, and questions concerning one’s call and gifts for ministry through ample opportunities for fellowship and free time. It provides a retreat setting for helping individuals discern their gifts for ministry.
You are invited to make use the Guidelines for Discernment resource from the ELCA Candidacy Manual; it has a helpful discussion of discernment in general along with suggestions for discernment conversations.
For more information, please contact Pastor Kelly Bayer Derrick.