Interested in becoming an LPA?
1. Talk to your church pastor. Talk about what it means to fill in for him or her and the traits it takes to provide pastoral leadership (albeit, temporary).
2. If your church does not have a pastor, feel free to contact our office. We’ll put you in touch with someone who can shed some light on the role of an LPA.
3. Have your church pastor contact Bishop Crist or Rev. Jason Asselstine, Assoc. to the Bishop via email or phone call. This contact and conversation will be your pastor’s recommendation for your participation in the MT Synod LPA program.
After approval from the Bishop (to enter the program), please ensure you have the following items to our Synod office at least 3 weeks prior to the class start date (our staff admin person will send you the paperwork to begin the process):
1. Completed biographical, information sheet.
2. Initiation of a required background check
3. First year’s payment of $200 via check made out to “MT Synod” with “LPA training program” in the check’s memo section. This can also be brought with you to the 1st group retreat.
Still have questions? Call our Synod office at 406-453-1461
If you have questions regarding our Montana Synod LPA training or would like to inquire about enrolling in the program, please contact one of our task force committee members below. Our task force members are also available for assistance or advice during and after the training program.
LPA Task Force:
Bishop Jessica Crist
Rev. Jason Asselstine,
Associate to the Bishop
Cheryl Muncy, LPA
Colter Mc Carty (staff admin)
What is an LPA and what is their role in the congregation?
A Lay Pastoral Associate in the Montana Synod is a congregational lay person who has received religious, educational training, through the Montana Synod, in order to provide (in most cases) short term pulpit supply (ie, preaching) when the pastor is away, or if a congregation is without a pastor. Their role is to fill in for the basic pastoral duties such as providing Word and Sacrament, communion, and other roles as approved by the Bishop. LPA’s are NOT authorized to preside at weddings.
What kind of training is available?
The Montana Synod provides a 2 yr training class that covers topics which include preaching, worship, prayer, and pastoral care. This educational training prepares the lay person to fill in for the short-term needs (and in some instances, longer term) of a congregation when a pastor is away, or for those congregations without a pastor.
LPA students are required to have a member of the rostered clergy serve as their mentor for the duration of the training. This provides one-to-one guidance and training throughout the program.
How is the training organized?
This 2 yr program allows the student to participate in 4 class retreats as a group, as well as self-paced, at-home foundation courses. Your training is facilitated in 3 ways; ELCA rostered clergy or faculty designated by the Synod; yourself; and your mentor. The breakdown of the training is as follows:
Group Retreats at the Ursuline Centre; Great Falls, MT: (attendance is required)
Fall, year 1: Prayer (Oct. 7-8, 2016)
Spring, year 1: Worship (April 7-8, 2017)
Fall, year 2: Preaching (Oct. 6-7, 2017)
Spring, year 2: Pastoral Care (April 6-7, 2018)
The group retreats are taught by members of the Montana Synod ELCA clergy roster, or by faculty designated by the Synod.
At-Home, Foundation courses:
Year 1, Oct-April: Intro to Old Testament
Year 1, April-Oct: Intro to New Testament
Year 2, Oct-April: History of Christianity
Year 2, April-Oct: Intro to Lutheran Theology *
Year 1, Oct-April: Planning & leading a bible study
Year 1, April-Oct: Preparation for preaching
Year 2, Oct-April: Visitation, prayer, and the care of souls
Year 2, April-Oct: Teaching of the catechism *
*The final Mentor-Guided & At-Home Foundation course can be completed from April through October, 2016. However, in order to receive a “Certificate of Completion” at the Montana Synod Assembly in 2018, you must have all required paperwork & courses completed before the end of May, 2018.
Progress during your foundation course studies is monitored by your mentor, as well as the Synod office through written progress reports sent to the Synod office. The training for these at-home courses is accomplished through dvd’s and text books.
How much does the 2 yr training cost?
The total cost of the 2 yr program is $400.00. However, we ask for a $200 payment at the beginning of each class year. In many cases, the student’s congregation will cover (or reimburse) the cost of training. The student and church council should work this out prior to the beginning the LPA training.
Other associated costs include travel to/from the retreat locations; purchase of DVDs/texts for at-home study courses (note: several congregations have copies of the required DVDs/videos/texts which may be available for you to borrow. Also, our Synod office has limited copies of the resources for each topic, available for loan, at no cost).
The Montana Synod requires that all potential LPA candidates as well as current LPA’s who are officially enrolled in the MT Synod LPA program, undergo a background screening. The cost for this is in addition to the program training fee and materials cost.
Please note that there are no refunds of program fees after the start of the initial training class.
When is the next class?
Our LPA training class is currently in session. We will start a new LPA training class during the fall of 2016. If this training is something that interests you, please keep in touch with your pastor. We normally disseminate class information through emails and Synod newsletters. If you would like to be added to our LPA email interest list, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.