Q: How long does it take to become a Lutheran pastor?
A: a) 6 years; b) 3 years; c) 4 years; d) schooling not required
Q: How much does it cost to become a pastor?
A: a) it’s free! (the church pays for everything); b) $40,000 – $50,000; c) $10,000 – $20,000; d) $25.00 (the certificate). The above are only two of 25 questions posed in a game show entitled Who Wants to be a Minister? It is all part of a package of resources for It’s Your Call, a program initiated last year by the Eastern Synod of the ELCIC, to attract candidates for the Lutheran ministry, given the crisis of leadership needs in our denomination. The program has now been applied nationwide – a 10-year plan within all five regional synods and with nominations for candidates being called for every other year.
Utilizing It’s Your Call resources on a designated Sunday, congregation members are asked to provide names of persons they believe have the gifts for ministry. Over the weeks to come, follow-up interviews with nominees are conducted.
On the heels of the first It’s Your Call Sunday in January 2004, more than 75 per cent of Eastern Synod congregations participated and more than 70 names of potential candidates for ordained or diaconal ministry were forwarded to Synod. Ten students subsequently enrolled in the first-year ordination track program at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary in September 2004.
In western Canada, It’s Your Call Sunday took place in early 2005. Lutheran Theological Seminary (LTS) in Saskatoon subsequently hosted an open house in March and welcomed 20 potential candidates representing the four western synods. Some of them decided to enrol in seminary for September, while others explored the academic and vocational implications.
As reported in this column last January, the ELCIC is in the beginning stages of a clergy shortage. In his recently completed Millennium Study, Rev. Ken Kuhn, an ELCIC pastor and sociologist, estimated that between 2002 and 2025, a 62 per cent increase in recruitment (translation: 550 to 600 new pastors) would be required to keep pace with the ministry needs of our church.
In fact, on the heels of the 2001 Waterloo Declaration of Full Communion between the Anglican Church of Canada and the ELCIC, a joint implementation committee urged Lutheran and Anglican seminaries to work together to train pastors.
Last summer, the College of Emmanuel and St. Chad, an Anglican seminary at the University of Saskatchewan campus in Saskatoon, moved to share quarters with the LTS.
As we move forward together, the leadership needs of the ACC and ELCIC will be drawn more and more in partnership from all our people in service to the gospel.
Oh yes, lest I forget: the answers to the questions: c), b). Rev. Peter Mikelic pastors Epiphany Lutheran church, Toronto, and writes for various church and secular publications.