|Candidates for Ministry|
QTC is the recognised training college of the Presbyterian Church of Queensland (PCQ), and so some of our students are candidates for ordination as ministers of the Presbyterian Church of Australia.
Ordination candidates complete a four-year course of study which incorporates the requirements of the QTC BTh or MDiv, plus several additional subjects designed to help them prepare for their particular goal of Word ministry within a local congregation(s) in Australia and in the Presbyterian denomination.
This page tells you the steps you need to take as part of the application process, and in particular, what study is involved. It is important to bear in mind that within PCQ - as with Presbyterian and Reformed denominations all over the world - primary responsibility for determining suitability for ordination lies not with the theological college but with the leadership of your local congregation (the Session) together with the leadership of the other congregations in your district (the Presbytery).
Recommendation from Session
To become a candidate you must have been a member of a local Presbyterian congregation for at least six months. You need to apply to the Session (comprising the Minister(s) and Elders responsible for your congregation) for written confirmation that this is the case, as well as for a reference indicating their belief that you are a suitable person to be trained for ordained ministry.
Application to Presbytery
You next need to apply to a Presbytery (normally the Presbytery in which your church is situated) to be accepted as a candidate for the ministry. The Presbytery is made up of all of the Presbyterian ministers in your district / region and representative elders from all of the congregations. Your application should be accompanied by: the reference and certification from the Session, your bio-data, and a complete list of your academic record including a copy of the highest award attained.
The Presbytery will interview you, and if satisfied, will accept you as a candidate for the ministry under their care. This will be subject to certain assessments by the Committee on Ministries Training (CMT).
Contact with the Faculty of the College
If you have not already done so, it is a good idea to get in touch with the College faculty. This will enable the faculty to advise you on what will be the likely requirements for your study. This also helps when the faculty is asked by the CMT about your grading in the course. The first point of contact on the faculty for ordination candidacy matters is Wesley Redgen.
Assessments by the Committee on Ministries Training
After the Presbytery has accepted you, they forward your application to this Committee. This Committee is responsible to ensure that you are trained according to standards laid down by the College Committee of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Australia. The Committee either confirms your application or refers it back to the presbytery for further consideration.
On the advice of the Faculty, they will grade you into a year of the course depending on your previous level of study. They will also arrange for you to have two medical assessments. When the Committee has accepted you as a candidate you are then ready to start your course of training as a candidate. (Note that some people, after speaking with their Session and the Faculty, commence studies at QTC as an independent student and then apply for acceptance as a candidate.)
The duration of training
The course of training as set down is equivalent to four years of full-time tertiary study. Some candidates have already completed theological studies at another college before commencing at QTC - in such cases credits are given based on subjects previously passed and the requirements for study at QTC are reduced accordingly. Contact QTC for more details.
Also included in the required course is supervised field education. This is normally of at least two years duration. Much of this is normally done in local congregations under the supervision of a minister appointed by the faculty.
Candidates follow a course of study which includes a solid grounding in all of the key areas of theology – the Old and New Testaments, Greek and Hebrew language, systematic theology, Church History, Ethics and Apologetics – as well as in areas of practice that are important for ministry, such as preaching, pastoral skills, leadership and Presbyterian church government.
Candidates follow the same course of study as BTh and MDiv students, but take a greater number of subject units than others doing the BTh or MDiv to make up their four-year course. Normally this means that candidates enrol in one of two combined degrees (the BTh/BMin or the MDiv/GradDipDiv) which are taken over four years full-time rather than three. Current course plans for candidates are available here:
A small number of candidates have already completed prior theological studies. In this situation the Faculty may grant you credit from these towards the candidates course. The current cross-credit checklist for those who have studied at other ACT Colleges and at Moore College Sydney is available here.
Yearly Presbytery assessment
In addition to the work done at the College, a candidate is required to submit to certain assessments by his presbytery. These assessments form part of what is (euphemistically!) called Trials for Licence. The yearly requirements are usually to regularly lead Sunday services, preach, and to submit a piece of written work to the Presbytery.
College Committee assessments
In the final year of training the candidate is also required to submit to the College Committee an exit thesis of 4000-8000 words for assessment. (Note that there is a proposal being presented to the national next meeting of the Presbyterian Church of Australia by its College Committee, in 2013, to remove this requirement for all candidates completing their course after that time).
When the College Faculty certifies that all the requirements have been satisfactorily completed, the College Committee issues an Exit Certificate.
Licensing by Presbytery
Once the Exit certificate is issued the Presbytery, if it is still satisfied with the fitness of the person to be a minister, proceeds to "licence" him to preach the gospel. The licentiate is then appointed to an appointment in a local church, although it could be to another kind of ministry.
It seems like a long complicated process. But it enables candidates to be properly trained and assessed for a vital and challenging role serving God and his people. It gives the candidate confidence that his people have confirmed God's guidance which led the person to apply in the first place for this service in God's kingdom.
For further information on the Candidates Course, please contact The Committee on Ministries Training