Pastoral Colloquy is the process by which men who meet specific criteria may secure admission to the ministerium of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. This admission may be provided through a “colloquy” (discussion, interview) with the Colloquy Committee for the Pastoral Ministry.
The 2015 Policy Manual, “Admission to the Pastoral Ministry of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod by Colloquy: Bylaws and Policies,” states:
To be eligible to apply for colloquy, applicants must fit into one of the three categories listed below (the applicant will indicate under which category he is applying, but the Colloquy Committee for the Pastoral Ministry is responsible for the final determination of the category in each individual situation):
1. Active Pastors from Other Christian Church Bodies: Men who, at the time of application are in good standing and in active service as pastors in another Christian Church body/denomination may apply for colloquy. Such applicants must be graduates of a program of study that leads to ordination, from an accredited institution,* with no fewer than 60 semester hours (90 quarter hours) of required academic credit. Such applicants must also have served at least three years in a recognized ministry of their church body, and must supply suitable documentation of their active status and good standing in their current church body/denomination. Pastors of congregations that are not affiliated with a church body/denomination (are “non-denominational” or “independent”) also may apply, but they must supply suitable references and documentation of their authorization to perform pastoral ministry. In all cases the academic requirements will apply.
2. Men Who Have Prepared for Pastoral Ministry but, at the Time of Application, Are Not in Active Service as Pastors: Such applicants must be graduates of a program of study that leads to ordination, from an accredited institution,* with no fewer than 60 semester hours (90 quarter hours) of required academic credit. Applicants with prior pastoral service must provide the date (month and year) and the reason (e.g. retirement, resignation, dismissal) their active service ended. References and suitable documentation will be required. Such an applicant also must have been a communicant member in good standing in a congregation of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod for at least two years* immediately prior to the time of application.
3. Licensed Deacons of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod: Men who have been licensed by the president of a district of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod to carry out, as a licensed deacon, the full responsibilities of the pastoral ministry in (a) congregation(s) of the Synod, and who have carried out these responsibilities for at least 10 years,* may apply for admission to the pastoral ministry by colloquy. In all cases, such applications also must be accompanied by the recommendation of a congregation that holds membership in the Synod, on the basis of that congregation’s observation of and experience with the applicant. The application must also include written documentation from the congregation and the district president that the applicant actually has been responsible for carrying out the full responsibilities of the pastoral ministry for at least 10years. Finally, to be considered by the committee, the application must be accompanied by the congregation’s written commitment to extend a divine Call for the applicant to become its pastor once the colloquy process has been completed.
* NOTE: Should the sponsoring district president be convinced that the Colloquy Committee for Pastoral Ministry ought consider, on the basis of an applicant’s special circumstances, an exception to one of these specific eligibility requirements (asterisked above), the sponsoring district president must furnish with the application a written recommendation detailing the special circumstances and the rationale for the recommended exception. The Colloquy Committee, however, retains the responsibility and authority for deciding to grant or to decline the exception. The decision of the Colloquy Committee shall be regarded as final by all parties to the colloquy application.
Other applicants for the ordained ministry, such as commissioned ministers of religion, laymen of a special ethnic or linguistic group, and laymen who have fulfilled at least 10 years of significant service in a congregation, will participate in special theological education (alternate routes) under the direction of the seminaries. These individuals are to be directed to one of the seminaries of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.
- Applicant contacts the President of the district in which he resides.
- The District President supplies the application form and assists in completing the application, if necessary, as well as informs the applicant of required documents that must accompany the application.
- A complete background check will be required. The District President will obtain from the applicant the necessary information and permission to obtain the background check. Costs of this work are the responsibility of the applicant, paid through the district.
- The completed application and accompanying materials are given to the District President (e.g. biography, testimonial letters, academic transcripts and other necessary documentation).
- The District President shall refer the applicant to the District Interview Committee (also used for seminary applicants), who shall give a report and recommendation to the District President.
- The District President sends the completed application to the First Vice President of the Synod, chairman of the Colloquy Committee.
- The District President assures the Colloquy Committee of his sponsorship before the Colloquy Committee can act on the application.
- The Colloquy Committee publishes a notice of its intent to interview the applicant in an official periodical of the Synod.
- When 30 days following publication have passed, the Colloquy Committee may take action on the application and consider any objections which may have been submitted. The Colloquy Committee (solely) determines whether an objection is valid. There is no appeal of the decision.
- The Colloquy Committee will invite the qualified applicant for an interview.
- If the applicant is approved, course work and necessity of a vicarage will be determined.
- The Colloquy Committee will inform the applicant and the District President of its decision.
- The Colloquy Committee may require mentored readings and/or specific coursework. If course work is required, the Colloquy Committee will work with the seminary of the applicant’s choice to develop an appropriate program of study.
- The Colloquy Committee shall:
- Certify for placement those applicants who have satisfactorily completed the colloquy interview and any other requirements as assigned by the Committee;
- Report this action to the placement committee, office of BHE and the appropriate District President; and
- Publish a report of its favorable action in an official periodical of the Synod.