By Pr. John Hulden

Ah! It’s the day after Easter Sunday.

For you churchy people – just accept that you are a churchy person since you are reading this churchy blog – this week after Lent/Holy Week/Easter Sunday is a time to catch our breath. It’s respite at least for a little while, before we start looking ahead to the rest of April, the many festivities in May, and then summer.

Isn’t that the way it goes? We get to one spot on the calendar and, as soon as we arrive, we begin looking ahead to the next stuff on the calendar.

Here is something to ponder while you catch your breath. Now is the time to set aside days in your summer calendar, not just for vacation, but for time for continued education, continued reflection, continued reading, continued wellness.


LAST WEEK I WAS on a 24-hour retreat at a bible camp with my colleagues from eight other synods in our region for who work with candidacy. We walk with folks who are following a call to serve as a deacon or a pastor in our church. What a rich privilege it is for me and your synodical candidacy committee to accompany our candidates. (Thank you, members of the hard-working MAS candidacy committee!)

I suppose it is fitting that we synod candidacy folks met at a bible camp. Bible camps help young people develop and discover their gifts for ministry. Bible camps are also where many young people deepen their call to Christian public leadership.

In walking with our candidates in our synod, we hear wonderful stories about the many people in their lives who have pointed out their gifts for ministry. Many times the candidates themselves seem to be the last people to realize that God is calling them to be a deacon or a pastor.

I imagine you have been the Sunday school teacher or choir director or youth leader or confirmation small group mentor or pastor or deacon or friend down the pew to encourage and cajole a potential candidate into rostered ministry. Candidacy committees across the ELCA keep asking, “What makes for a good deacon or pastor?”

At the Bible camp last week, we pondered four important competencies for Rostered Ministers in the ELCA:

  1. Leadership Competencies
  2. Theological Competencies
  3. Ministry Competencies
  4. Wellness Competencies

How do we help form leaders to be mission-minded and adaptive in the way they approach ministry situations? Do we shape and organize instead of just fix? Will we be life-long learners with a faith seeking understanding? Do we walk and preach the way of the cross? How can we get better at the nuts and bolts of parish ministry? How do we attend our well-being as a leader in the church?


SO, CONGRATULATIONS, you have navigated through Holy Week and Easter Sunday celebrations (in addition to the pancake breakfast, Easter egg hunts, altar guild duties, decorating, un-decorating, redecorating, and bulletin prep)! Now as you look ahead, what is your best way to regroup/refresh/recreate/realize new and better ways to lead in this changing world? Might it be a silent retreat or spending a week with hundreds and hundreds of preachers at the Festival of Homiletics?

When you find the time in your calendar, perhaps you could use those four competences as a guide.

Thank you, churchy people, for your leadership in God’s Church!

Candidacy staff from the ELCA Synods in states that end in “ota” at Luther Crest Bible Camp, Alexandria, Minnesota. (It’s good to get together with other people with the same weird job. Yes, John is just making another shameless plug for churchy leaders to be in peer groups!)