“Our pastor has resigned. What now?”

Use From Pastoral Vacancy to Installation: A Handbook from the Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Synod, ELCA (“Vacancy Manual”) to guide you more completely through the process. Download the Vacancy Manual (pdf file, 2011 edition). The Covenant for Interim Ministry (“Interim Covenant”) included in the Vacancy Manual was updated 8/2014. Find the updated Interim Covenant on the “Forms” page.


Transitions – due to resignations or retirements, with our pastors and other rostered leaders (Associates in Ministry, Diaconal Ministers and Deaconnesses) – are a common event in the life of the church. The synod has a process to help congregations and rostered leaders achieve healthy transitions. The process is designed to ensure healthy closure with an outgoing leader, assist the congregation in assessing its needs and beginning ministry in the interim period, and move into interviewing candidates and calling someone new.

At this point, the congregation prepares for the departure of an outgoing leader and the synod assists in reviewing the call process with the congregation and determining the congregation’s interim ministry needs.

An interim pastor or other rostered leader may be engaged while the congregation and its church council assess their needs and appoint a call committee. Find the Covenant for Interim Ministry on the “Forms” page, and more information in “Added strength before call process,” a Forum blog post.

The synod reviews the pool of available candidates and forwards information to the congregation call committee, which interviews candidates and recommends a candidate to the church council. Find a Call Meeting Template  on the “Forms” page for guidance.

A congregational meeting date is arranged with the synod and held to approve the calling of a notified candidate.

Once a candidate considers and accepts the call, a congregation concludes the interim arrangement and welcomes the new leader to their congregation.


* NOTE: The “Rite of Farewell and Godspeed for Pastors,” listed on the Materials for the Call Process list to the right, comes from the Upstate New York Synod and is part of their “Healthy Transitions” packet.  If congregations would like more information about the packet, they can contact Harold Sargeant or the Rev. Amy Thompson Sevimli at the synod office for more information.