ELCA candidates for ordination who attend non-ELCA seminaries must engage in all three of the candidacy steps:
- Entrance: upon request, the appropriate synod office will provide a candidate packet that includes an application for candidacy. Your home congregation will register your application with the synod. Upon the return of the completed application, the candidacy committee will arrange a series of discernment opportunities. This step is normally completed by June 1, but no later than December 1, of the year you plan to enter seminary.
- Endorsement: This step normally takes place during the second year of theological education. You cannot undertake your required internship without having first been endorsed.
- Approval: This step normally occurs during your final year of preparation, whether you are in academic study or on internship. Once you are approved, you are eligible to enter the call process for service within the church.
Before applying to a non-ELCA seminary, you should be certain to discuss your educational options with and receive permission from your synodical candidacy committee. The committee will explain the roll of ELCA seminaries in your candidacy process and may recommend the ELCA seminary with which you should “affiliate” while attending the non-ELCA school.
You will normally be expected to affiliate with the ELCA seminary prior to your enrollment in the non-ELCA school. You will then be responsible for maintaining ongoing contact with the ELCA seminary, as faculty and staff there will be responsible for coordinating your internship, overseeing your “Lutheran Year,” and assessing your readiness for ordination.
Affiliation with The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia begins with submission of an admission application and the ELCA affiliation fee to the seminary. Failure to affiliate in your first year of full-time seminary study or equivalent will result in the assessment of a late affiliation fee. Forms and information are available from the Admissions Office.
After your application has been approved, the seminary Dean will assign you an LTSP faculty advisor. The Dean and the advisor are available to consult with you about your course planning, both at your home school, should you need advice, and as you undertake your “Lutheran Year.” The seminary’s Director of Contextual Education is available to assist you in planning for internship and CPE, which are required of all candidates for ELCA ordination. Your faculty advisor will sit in on your endorsement and approval panels.
The Lutheran Year is your opportunity to spend a prescribed amount of time (as set by your candidacy committee) on a Lutheran campus, enhancing your understanding of and appreciation for Lutheran theology and practice and studying alongside your future colleagues in ministry. You should select courses that enhance your ability to articulate your faith and sense of call as you prepare for your approval panel. Your candidacy committee may have particular courses they want you to take. If not, your faculty advisor can assist you in selecting those courses that best complement your work at your home school. Upon completion of a full Lutheran Year at LTSP, you would be eligible to receive a Certificate of Theological Study at graduation.
If you have already earned your MDiv before coming to LTSP for your Lutheran Year, you can elect to take your Lutheran Year courses toward an STM degree. Contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. David D. Grafton firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in the possibility. You would need separately to be admitted to the STM program.