Last week I posted about the fourth anniversary of my forced resignation. I've been a pastor for over nine years, but the last four years have been spent in what is known as "Candidate Status". Candidate Status means, in short, that a pastor is not serving in a parish, but he is able to receive and consider Calls and can serve as pulpit supply for congregations needing a fill-in pastor. According to the by-laws of the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod, a pastor can stay on Candidate Status for four years. My four years are up. Nonetheless, I still greatly desire to return to parish ministry.
I received the following message from the Southern District secretary on Friday:
Your status as Candidate ends this month as it marks your fourth year on this status. Our office will be changing your status to Non-Candidate. This will not impede your availability for a call. You can stay on Non-Candidate status for eight years.
This verifies an earlier message I received from President Schultz of the Southern District:
When your status expires you will move automatically to Inactive Candidate Status unless you indicate otherwise. You can remain on this for another 8 years. I will continue to circulate your information for call.
These messages are somewhat comforting. I'd been told by then-President Bergen that I could remain on Candidate Status for four years, but if I went to non-Candidate status, I would be unable to receive a Call. I've worried about that.
I may have good reason to be worried about that. Looking at a Q&A on the LCMS website (see point 5) I read the following:
Non-candidate CRM pastors, who only wish to remain on the roster of the Synod but are not interested in a call at the present time, may remain on the roster as non-candidate CRM for eight years, renewable once.
I believe my district president when he tells me that I am still eligible to receive Calls on non-Candidate status. The Handbook is not really all that clear about the Call eligibility of non-Candidate pastors (look on page 57 of your copy of the 2007 Handbook and see for yourself), so I can only trust the interpretation of my ecclesiastical supervisor.
Nonetheless, if I seem confused about where I stand, it's because I am.
Incidentally, this is post 100 on this blog. I would like to thank all of you who read this blog. Whether you post comments or not, the fact that people find this blog to be of interest is a source of constant amazement to me. Of course, if you're here because it resembles a train wreck and you can't help but look, I can understand that, too.