Congregational Call Process

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding.  In all things acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.  Proverbs 3:5-6

Grace and peace to you as your parish enters this new phase of life as a worshiping community and begins to work through the process of calling a new pastor. This handbook is designed to help guide parish leaders through the process from beginning to end: from the farewell to one pastor through the process of calling another, including the transition, the search, and the excitement of a new beginning.  Please know that you are in our prayers and we value your partnership in this ministry.

The Northwestern Ohio Synod walks hand in hand with a congregation during the call process from the time of a pastor’s announcement of resignation or retirement to the extension of a call to a new pastor. We conduct exit interviews with the pastor and council; we meet with the council to explain the call process and manual, and we meet with call committees to explain their role and offer help with interviewing. We search for pastors who have gifts that match the gifts sought and needed by the congregations. We’re available to answer questions at all times.

Synod staff not only guide the parish through the process in the above ways, but we work hard to ensure that appropriate care by pastoral and lay leadership, is provided throughout the transition. We work with parishes to determine the leadership needs and seek the best interim and transitional plan for the parish. Placement plans might include supply pastors, a transitional pastor, or a team of leaders – pastor(s) and lay leader(s), Intentional Interim Pastors, Vice Pastors, Synodically Authorized Ministers or some combination of the above. Transitional plans are determined by the needs, Call Process phase and/or desires of the parish and are agreed upon by Synod Staff and parish leaders.

You may see a list of congregations currently in transition on the Congregations in the Call Process page.

If you are a congregation in the Call Process, please download the call process packet below.

If you have any questions or need assistance, please contact Sherry Krieger at 419-423-3664.

The Call Process is divided into four phases:

I. Ending Well

The “Ending Well” Phase outlines how the leadership team will manage the period of time from the resignation announcement of the departing pastor to the arrival of the Transitional/Interim Pastor(s). Included in this phase is the:

  1. Announcement of the Departing Pastor’s Resignation/Retirement
  2. Exit Interview with Pastor and Council to Review Ministry and Prepare for Transition and Call Process
  3. Appointment of a Transition Team
  4. Farewell to the Departing Pastor
  5. Supply/Transitional/Interim Pastor(s) Planning
  6. Welcome to the Transitional/Interim Pastor(s)

II. Transition & Discovery

The “Transition & Discovery” Phase describes how the parish discovers its spiritual identity, its mission and vision for ministry, and readies itself for changes that will accompany a new pastor. This phase includes:

  1. Healthy Congregation Workshops/Communication Skills
  2. Five Focus Point Parish Conversations
  3. Self-Study & Visioning
  4. Council Preparation of Parts 1 & 2 of the Ministry Site Profile
  5. Appointment of the Call Committee and Completion of the Ministry Site Profile (Part 3 – 5, & Summary)
  6. Council Approval of the Ministry Site Profile

III. Search & Call

The “Search & Call” Phase specifies responsibilities that relate specifically to the interviewing, recommendation, and selection of a pastor. This phase includes:

  1. Call Committee Orientation
  2. Interview Readiness
  3. Interviews with Candidates
  4. Recommendation to the Congregational Council
  5. Compensation Package Negotiation
  6. A Meet and Greet with the Parish
  7. Special Congregational Meeting search
  8. Farewell to Interim/Transitional Pastor(s)

IV. Starting Strong

The “Starting Strong” Phase outlines mutual expectations for the first 18 months of the ministry together with a new pastor. Included in this phase are:

  1. A Warm Welcome
  2. Appreciation for and Disillusionment of the Transition Team and Call Committee
  3. Establishment of a Mutual Ministry Team
  4. Parish Vision & Mission
  5. Eighteen Month Ministry Review