Lutheran Studies Program


The ELCA has four rostered ministries:ELCA - God's work. Our hands.

  • pastors
  • associates in ministry
  • deaconesses
  • diaconal ministers

If you are planning to prepare for any of the above church careers, you are encouraged to begin the candidacy process with your synod one year prior to the time you plan to enter seminary. Your membership in a congregation determines which synod candidacy committee you should contact.

The ELCA offers the TEEM (Theological Education for Emerging Ministries) process as an alternative program of preparation for ordination. It is for exceptional persons who are identified for ministry in a specific context and complete theological education (non-MDiv degree) and candidacy requirements. Learn more about TEEM here.


  • 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.
  • Approval: This step normally occurs during your final year of theological study. Once you are approved, you are eligible to enter the call process for service within the church.

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