In the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) a “roster” is a list of people who are trained and screened and approved as public leaders of the church.
In the ELCA there are four rosters:
Pastors – these men and women are the ones most people think of when the term “church leader” is uttered. They are charged with “Word and Sacrament” ministry. That means they are automatically authorized to preside over the Lord’s Supper (a.k.a. Communion or The Eucharist) and baptize people. They also do a lot of the preaching and teaching going on in churches. Some of my best friends are pastors. I say that and want to name that while individuals that I know and love who are ordained pastors understand “priesthood of all believers” and the concept of different calls to ministry, the group as a whole is protective of their power in the meta organization.
The other three rosters are knows as “Word and Service” rosters (note – no sacrament administration unless specially permissions are sought and given by the bishop) and these groups are as follows (listed in order of size of the group):
1) Associates in Ministry (AiM) – Men and women generally with calls (jobs) within the parish in the areas of program or administration. These folks are not “ordained” they are “commissioned.” Many of my grad school musician friends entered this roster.
2) Diaconal Ministry (DM) – Is a group of men and women with calls within and outside of the parish. Work can be in a wide variety of fields but a lot of social work and chaplains. These folks are not “ordained” either, they are “consecrated.”
3) Deaconess – this is a roster of only women. Like the diaconal ministry roster, deaconesses have calls in and out of the parish doing a variety of work. Historically, deaconesses were nurses and teachers and started many hospitals, orphanages, nursing homes and social service agencies. We are not “ordained” either – we are also “consecrated.”
For a fun exercise, find a good dictionary and look up the words “ordained” and “consecrated” and you’ll maybe get a little taste of the fun times we have splitting hairs in the church!
Got questions? Shoot me a comment and I’ll do what I can to answer – or send you in the right direction.