architectural detail from Bockman Hall on Luther Seminary campus

Approval and Assignment

For ELCA candidates

Approval, the third step in the candidacy process, typically occurs following successful completion of internship or field experience. Each student interviews with a team of seminary faculty which results in a recommendation to your candidacy committee. The candidacy committee then makes the final decision about approval toward consecration, commissioning, or ordination.  Students often need to travel for the approval interview with the synod.  The Approval Essay on topics shared by the ELCA annually is a core part of these interviews. 

"Such discernment is the culmination of an extensive process... now reaches a point of mutual affirmation and celebration of readiness for service as a rostered leader"  (Candidacy Manual 2016, p. 56)

After approval, you may choose to move into the assignment process.

Assignment occurs post-approval and when the candidate is ready to seek a first call in the ELCA. You, along with the seminary and your candidacy committee, must complete a series of forms in preparation for assignment to one of the 9 regions of the ELCA. Regional Assignment is followed shortly by a synodical assignment to one of the ELCA's 65 synods.

Forms for Approval and Assignment

Internship completion policy

The general understanding of how completion of internship relates to the process of faculty approval of ELCA seniors is as follows:

Internship is expected to be completed, including the final internship evaluations received by the Contextual Learning Office, before ELCA seniors are eligible for the faculty vote on their approval recommendation for ordination. Following faculty action, synodical candidacy committees make the final decision on all questions of approval. There are three possible exceptions:

  1. In the case of concurrent/part-time internships, the above expectation is modified in the following way.  When the first twelve months of the concurrent/part-time internship have been completed, a student may be considered by the faculty in the succeeding semester. Prior to a vote in a faculty meeting, summary paragraphs from the final internship evaluations must be submitted by the supervising pastor, the lay internship committee, and the intern. If faculty recommendation for approval is given, it will be contingent upon satisfactory completion of the internship.
  2. For a residency internship, the first twelve months will meet the seminary and church requirement for internship. A resident intern may be considered by the faculty upon completion of the first twelve months of the residency and the submission of final internship evaluations from the supervisor, the lay internship committee and the resident intern. Final approval can be given to the student while the residency internship continues.
  3. Where any of the following circumstances apply, students may request early approval prior to the completion of internship in writing to the Contextual Learning office by January 15:
    1. doing a final year internship;
    2. affiliated and have completed their “Lutheran year” prior to internship; or
    3. seniors returning for only one semester after internship.

Faculty consideration for those students whose request is approved will not occur until the summary paragraphs from the final evaluations have been submitted by the supervising pastor, the lay internship committee, and the intern, and at least eight months of the internship have been completed. If the request is granted faculty recommendation for approval will be contingent upon the satisfactory completion of the internship.

Adopted: December 12, 2006

Revised: October 26, 2010