QTC is the recognised training college of the Presbyterian Church of Queensland (PCQ). Therefore some of our students are candidates for ordination as ministers of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, both from Queensland and also sometimes from other parts of Australia.
Ordination candidates complete a four-year course of study which incorporates the requirements of the QTC Pastor’s Pathway, plus several additional units designed to help them prepare for their particular goal of ordained ministry within a local Presbyterian congregation in Australia.
This page tells you the steps you need to take as part of the application process, what being a candidate involves, and particularly 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 the Presbytery in your area, acting on the recommendation of the Elders (Session) of your local congregation. QTC provides theological training for candidates and is keen to help however we can, but it is the Presbytery which as overall responsibility for individual candidates.
Step 1: 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. Typically the Session will want to speak to interview or speak with you about your candidacy application before writing to the Presbytery.
Step 2: 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 your Church’s Session,
- a brief CV including a list of all study undertaken at high school level and above, and
- either your High School Senior Certificate or transcripts of studies completed at University.
To be accepted as a candidate, you must have either completed Australian Year 12 satisfactorily or have completed an Australian University Degree (or acceptable overseas equivalents, together with demonstrated English proficiency).
The Presbytery will interview you, often through an interview panel or small subcommittee, and if satisfied, will accept you as a candidate for the ministry under their care. This will be subject to certain assessments by the PCQ Committee on Training for the Ministry (CTM).
Step 3: Contact with the Faculty of the College
If you have not already done so, it is a good idea to get in touch with QTC, so they can give you advice on potentially starting study at College, and to talk with you about the requirements of the Candidates Course. Please contact the faculty for ordination candidacy matters here.
Step 4: Assessments by the Committee on Training for the Ministry (CTM)
After the Presbytery has accepted you, they forward your application to this Committee. The CTM 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, you will be graded into a year of the course depending on whether you have previously completed theological study, and how much you have completed. The CTM will also arrange for you to have two medical assessments and a Police Check, as well as confirm you have a valid Blue Card for working with those under 18. 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.)
Step 5: Field Education
Also included in each year of the Candidates Course is supervised field education, as part of the Field Education Scheme (FES). This normally takes the form of a student minister role in a local Presbyterian congregation under the supervision of a Minister. Requirements within placements vary according to the student’s training needs and the church they are placed with, however, over the four years of training, students will need to preach and lead services regularly, and demonstrate a capacity to do Word ministry in contexts such as small groups and one-to-one ministry. Placements are approved by the Faculty, and so you should speak with the Principal if you have questions, concerns or preferences regarding your placement. FES students are supported financially by their host church (at a level of approximately $10,000 including a travel allowance in 2015), and it is expected that students will spend around ten hours per week serving as part of their FES placement including preparation time. If students have any questions in relation to their FES placements, they should contact the QTC Faculty.
Step 6: Course of Study
Candidates follow a course of study which provides a strong 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. The Candidates course involves four years of full-time study (or part-time equivalent) and it is recommended that students complete the course full-time and on campus as part of the college community.
Candidates follow the same course of study as those on QTC’s Four-Year Pastor’s Pathway, with some additional specifications relevant to the needs of Presbyterian Ministry. Normally this means that candidates enrol in one of three combined degrees (the MDiv/GradDipDiv, BTh/BMin or the Bth/DipMin) which represent four years of full-time study. 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, depending on what you have studied previously and the recommendations of the Presbytery and the CTM regarding your training needs for future Presbyterian ministry. The current cross-credit checklist for those who have studied at other ACT Colleges and at Moore College Sydney is available here. The checklist is revised and approved annually by the national Presbyterian Church’s College Committee, and therefore it is important to make sure that you have read the latest version of the checklist in place immediately before you commence as a candidate.
Financial Support for Candidates
Full-time candidates at QTC are paid a bursary while in their second, third and fourth years as a candidate. The level of the bursary varies according to whether the candidate is single or married, how many children they have, and the ages of their children. In the first (probationary) year of candidacy, which for some students might be their second, third or fourth year of theological study, no bursary is normally provided. However students may apply to the CTM to be paid a bursary for their first year as a candidate in cases of serious financial need, and where funds are available the committee can decide to provide a bursary.
Step 7: 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 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. Questions regarding Trials for Licence and other Presbytery requirements should be directed to the Presbytery’s Candidates Committee, or to the Presbytery Clerk.
Step 8: Exit Certificate
When the College Faculty certifies that all the requirements have been satisfactorily completed, the College Committee issues an Exit Certificate which should be provided to the Clerk of the Candidates’ Presbytery as soon as it has been received.
Step 9: Licensing by Presbytery
Once the Exit certificate is issued the Presbytery, if it is still satisfied with the suitability 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. This appointment is made by PCQ’s Committee on Ministry Resourcing (CMR), which will make arrangements to meet with and interview all candidates in their final year of study at QTC to discuss possible ministry opportunities after college. PCQ allows for candidates to speak and negotiate directly with ministries which they might potentially serve with after licensing. However, it is important to remember that such placements may only be taken up if the CMR agrees to exempt the candidate from having their exit appointment made by the CMR itself. Therefore candidates are strongly encouraged to contact CMR’s Director of Ministry Resourcing as early as practicable if they are likely to request such an exemption.
This al probably seems like a long and 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 that under God they believe that his Christian character, doctrine, motivation, and gifts and abilities make him well-suited to the work of serving the Kingdom as an ordained Minister.
Your next step?
For further information on the Candidates Course, please contact The Committee on Training for the Ministry
Rev. Andrew Purcell [Convener]
Rev Rob Davey [Secretary]
You can view a graphical representation of the Process for Candidating for the Presbyterian Ministry here.