Supervised field experience may begin after the candidate has completed the application requirements and been endorsed by the synodical CTEL. Supervised field experience may occur concurrently with studies or following the completion of required course work. Candidates who are enrolled in an academic degree program at a seminary or university shall work with their institution for the arrangement and oversight and submit their plan for approval to the synodical CTEL. Candidates who have completed their academic work or who are already in service must make their own arrangements for their field experience and its oversight. These arrangements must be approved by the synodical CTEL before the field experience begins.
Experience and involvement in ministry is essential to preparation for service as a diaconal minister. It is more than on the job training. It is experiential learning in the action-reflection model whereby one's practice of ministry is combined with supervised reflection and evaluation of that ministry. Supervised field experience seeks to facilitate the integration of academic study in the area of specialization and theological education with the practice of ministry of this church in an interdependent relationship with other laity and clergy.
- To provide actual experience in the candidate's area of ministry specialization, thereby enabling the candidate to develop increasing competence as a professional in the public ministry of the church.
- To offer an opportunity for self-evaluation and spiritual nurture under the guidance of a mentor in the candidate's area of specialization.
- To offer an opportunity for evaluation by others.
- To provide a learning context which allows the candidate to experience all aspects of congregational, institutional or agency life including participation in the governing and programmatic structures such as council, board of directors, committees and staff meetings.
- To provide opportunity for the candidate to participate in at least one project in one's area of specialization from beginning to end, including planning, execution and evaluation.
- To assist the candidate in developing regular habits and patterns for theological reflection, spiritual nurture and discipline, and healthy self-care.
- To provide the synodical CTEL an assessment from the supervisory team regarding the candidate's:
- commitment to Christ;
- acceptance of and adherence to the Lutheran Confessions;
- willingness and ability to serve in response to the needs of this church;
- practical qualifications for ministry; and
- life consistent with the gospel and personal qualifications including leadership abilities and competence in interpersonal relationships.
Diaconal ministry candidates may enter the candidacy process from a variety of contexts. Some may be undergraduates, some graduate students enrolled in seminary, and some persons already in service in a ministry setting who may or may not have completed their academic requirements. Some may have had many years of service in the church either as volunteers or paid staff, while others may have no work experience.
In recognition of this diversity, CTELs, academic institutions and others are encouraged to exercise creativity and flexibility in approving or arranging field experiences appropriate for the particular needs of the individual and for the good of the church. Three basic tracks or options are identified.
- Candidates who are enrolled in academic degree programs
Academic institutions may structure field experience in different ways. Several examples of approaches which may be used include:
- a full-time internship for 9–12 months;
- a combination SPE and field experience arrangement;
- a part-time position (10–20 hours per week) during the academic year completed concurrently over a one or two year period; or
- part-time work during the school year combined with full-time summer position.
The determination of how the field experience is structured will be based on such factors as age and previous work experience, academic setting, and whether graduate or undergraduate, etc. When a stipend is paid, the remuneration should be similar to that granted to MDiv interns. A stipend is strongly encouraged for work over 15 hours per week.
- Where structured field experience is part of the academic preparation arranged by a university or seminary, it is necessary for the candidate to request that evaluation reports be sent to their synodical CTEL.
- Candidates who have completed academic work
- If employed in a church-related setting, the candidate may, with the approval of CTEL, arrange to carry out the supervised field experience on-site. This option requires special attention to assist the candidate and the congregation or agency to process the change of role from that of locally recognized leader to that of a called and consecrated diaconal minister and the implication of this change for both parties.
- If not employed in a church-related setting, the candidate must arrange an appropriate field experience and submit the plan for approval by CTEL. Arrangements may include an appropriate stipend. ELCIC seminaries and the appropriate bishop shall be consulted when identifying a location where ministry and supervision needs might be met.
- It is necessary that the candidate request that evaluation forms be sent to CTEL.
- Candidates with three or more consecutive years experience in a church-related work position
Waiver or partial waiver of the Supervised Field Experience may be considered by CTEL for candidates who have been in service in church related employment for three consecutive years or longer.
The candidate shall provide a written request and rationale for this equivalency or waiver and document how the goals and objectives for supervised field experience have already been met. The candidate shall also provide three letters of recommendation from persons well acquainted with the candidate's work. In a congregational setting, these persons should be:
- the pastor;
- a congregational leader either elected or with leadership responsibility related to the area of specialization; and
- a person with competence and knowledge consistent with the candidate's area of ministry.
CTEL shall review this material and, in consultation with the candidate, determine whether additional contextual learning goals need to be addressed. It is the decision of CTEL whether or not to grant the request.
In all cases, the candidate shall be required to work with the Mutual Ministry Committee of their congregation in reflecting together on issues of changing ministry identity as one moves from the role of a locally recognized leader to that of a called and consecrated diaconal minister.
The context shall be a setting that represents the candidate's prospective area of ministry. For example, for parish work, parish education, parish nursing, youth ministry, music, etc., the setting should be in a parish; if for counselling or specialized pastoral care, it should be in an appropriate agency or institution.
A quality field experience for diaconal ministry candidates requires over-all supervision on site, mentoring and training specific to the area of specialization, support and nurture. Diaconal ministers will often serve in multiple staff ministries and typically work with a supervisor. Frequently, the person who supervises the overall ministry is an ordained pastor with responsibility for oversight in the local situation. It is important that the supervised field experience provide training and attention to team ministry development as well as the development of individual leadership gifts and skills. Three equally important roles and functions have been identified to facilitate the goals and objectives for supervised field experience. Normally this means the involvement of three parties in addition to the candidate. In some situations the role/function of field supervisor and that of mentor can be combined and carried out by one person. These three parties form the supervisory team:
On-site Field Supervisor
The on-site field supervisor will provide administrative structure to the overall experience including a written description of responsibilities, consultation for mutual reflection of supervisory issues, and a periodic review and evaluation. The field supervisor will meet regularly with the other partners in the supervisory team.
The on-site field supervisor shall normally be a consecrated diaconal minister or ordained pastor of the ELCIC. When the responsibility is given to a diaconal minister in a congregation, that person shall consult with the pastor regarding supervisory issues.
The mentor is usually a person who specializes in the same ministry area as the candidate. It is recommended that the mentor have at least three years of experience as a diaconal minister and be available for monthly meetings with the candidate. An experienced diaconal minister is to be preferred to a ministry specialist who is not a diaconal minister.
The mentor is responsible to work with the candidate to identify learning goals, objectives, and activities specific to the area of specialization. The mentor will participate in the supervisory team meetings and reflect with the candidate on issues related to effective team ministry. The mentor will reflect with the candidate as the candidate seeks to develop regular habits and patterns for spiritual nurture and discipline and healthy self-care. The mentor relationship may continue at the initiation of the candidate once he or she is consecrated and in service.
A Committee shall be appointed in all settings. It shall be appointed by the congregational council or assembled by the candidate and approved by CTEL in a non-congregational setting. This committee should include persons who will have regular exposure to and familiarity with the candidate's work, including leaders and participants in programs. In situations where the candidate is already in service, the Mutual Ministry Committee may provide this function.
The field experience is a time when gifts, aptitudes and skills for ministry can be developed and tested under supervision and within a positive and supportive atmosphere. Each field experience needs focus and specific learning goals. An acknowledged focus and written learning agreement bring coherence to the total learning experience and build partnership among the candidate, the supervisor(s), the congregation, the university or seminary and the synod. It is encouraged that candidates in academic programs work initially with faculty advisors in developing learning goals.
Each area of ministry specialization requires goals and activities specific to that area. It is equally important that each diaconal minister sees their specialization within the context of the overall mission and ministry of the entire congregation or agency. Candidates should gain experience in working with individuals and with groups. There should be opportunities to develop the specific skills required such as teaching, counselling, program planning and development, leadership training, musical performance, visitation, administration and/or committee work. Regardless of the area of specialization, it is desirable and encouraged that as one preparing for public ministry, the diaconal candidate gains experience in worship leadership by serving as an assisting minister in the liturgy.
A critical area of development for all diaconal candidates is learning team ministry skills in order to work effectively with councils and staff teams. It is recommended that whenever possible the candidate participates in retreats with staff, council or committees and takes advantage of workshops offered in building team ministry.
It is also desirable and recommended that the candidate have opportunities and receive financial assistance to participate in synodical events such as leadership conferences and synod conventions.
The candidate shall write a self-evaluation and the supervision partners shall write an evaluation of the candidate at the mid-point and at the conclusion of the field experience. (The chairperson of the Committee will represent the committee.) The evaluation will provide information to the academic institution when the candidate is a student and to their CTEL, and will be used in assessing successful completion of the requirement. Candidates are encouraged to keep a log or journal in which to describe all experiences and involvement toward carrying out the goals and which can then be used in reflection and evaluation sessions with the supervisor/mentor.
The candidate has responsibility to:
- arrange for an appropriate field experience and supervision to be approved by their CTEL;
- establish an effective working relationship with all members of the supervisory team;
- participate in writing the learning agreement;
- reflect theologically upon experiences gained;
- cultivate a personal devotional life and self-care; and
- engage in the evaluative process of field experience and prepare the required written reports.
For candidates enrolled at an academic institution, the institution is responsible to:
- work co-operatively with the candidate in arranging an appropriate field experience including the identification and approval of an appropriate supervisor and mentor;
- participate in preparing the learning agreement;
- assist in determining whether the field experience should continue in the event of any change or conflict in the supervisory relationship;
- receive evaluation reports and determine the successful completion of the requirement; and
- negotiate a stipend when appropriate.
For candidates who have completed their academic work or who are already in service, the synodical CTEL is responsible to:
- approve the arrangements for field experience and its supervision;
- participate in the final development of and approval of the learning agreement;
- assist in determining whether the field experience should continue in the event of any change or conflict in the supervisory arrangement; and
- receive evaluation reports and determine the successful completion of the requirement.
The Supervisor/Mentor/Committee has the responsibility to:
- participate in writing the learning agreement;
- provide regularly scheduled opportunities to discuss and reflect on the candidate's growth and development in light of the learning goals established;
- listen to the candidate's concerns as well as achievements and provide support as well as constructive suggestions for growth and learning; and
- provide written evaluation reports to the candidate, the academic institution and CTEL as required.