When a Pastor Leaves

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

– Jeremiah 29:11

Transition Process: Step 1

When a Pastor Leaves

The first step in the transition process is when a pastor leaves.
The first thing to do is meet with a member of the synod’s pastoral staff to review the process for calling a new pastor.

The initial transition into the interim period includes three components:

1. Meeting with a member of the synod pastoral staff (associate to the bishop)

  • Review of congregation council congregational exit tasks
    •  Exit interview with pastor
    • Farewell to pastor
  • Name the issues to be addressed in the transition period
  • This transition packet reviewed with congregation council
  • Review of available resources

2. Supply Pastors to meet basic needs while Interim Pastor is selected

  • Supply pastors can be any pastor on synod pulpit supply list
  • Supply pastor is paid hourly or by pulpit supply guidelines
  • Tasks include preaching, worship leading, basic pastoral care

3. Interim Pastor Installed by a member of the synod pastoral staff

  • Consultation with the synod office regarding interim needs
  • Interim pastoral candidates interviewed by congregation council
  • Interim contract and compensation negotiated by council

Here are some resources to help:

Things to know when a pastor leaves: 

As Pastor__________________ leaves, the Council decided it was appropriate to pass on the following information to the congregation during this transition time:
“When a pastor leaves a congregation it is not appropriate for him/her to continue to function in the pastoral role. This is sometimes difficult for people to comprehend.
A pastor should not be asked to do this or that baptism or funeral or wedding. If a pastor does a funeral for Jane Doe because she was so special, why not do a baptism for Sam Smith? Sam is special too.
A pastor should not continue in any counseling relationship with a parishioner.
It is not appropriate for the pastor to be involved in any way in the call process or to comment on a particular candidate”
This is especially important to remember when Pastor__________________ leaves. A line needs to be drawn clearly so that people know he/she is no longer our pastor. While this is painful, it must be done. The Church Council fully supports his/her in this decision, and anyone of us are willing to discuss this with you in more detail if you need further clarification.
come back to do funerals or weddings or baptisms
come back to lead worship services**
visit you in the hospital
accept appointments with you**
**The exception to this is that he/she can be invited back as a “former pastor” to help celebrate special events (e.g. anniversaries).

For help in setting up a Ministry Site Profile (MSP), please contact Heather at the synod office at or 773-248-0021.

Transition — The Five Steps

The time between one pastor leaving, and another being called, is called the Transition Process. There are five steps that are included in this process.

Transition Process | The Five Steps

Learn more about each of the five steps: 

Additional Resources


Your Constitution

If your congregation is revising its constitution, or if you have a question about your constitution, email the synod secretary, the Rev. Erin Clausen: .

You can also view a webinar about this topic.

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Change of Contact?

Has your congregation had a change of contact information? Send any updates of your address, phone number or key contact e-mail addresses by emailing Heather Haynes, 

Metropolitan Chicago Synod Office

Ph: 773-248-0021

Address: 1420 W. Dickens Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614

In Jesus’ name: we proclaim the gospel, make disciples, do justice.


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