The programme involves four years of full-time training. Most of the training is delivered within the course structures of the ACT. See the programme map
Before applying to be a candidate for the ministry of the Word and Sacraments in the Presbyterian Church of Australia, you must first have been a member of a PCA congregation for at least six months.
As a preliminary step before commencing the formal application process, it is strongly recommended that you speak to your minister and seek his advice, and to any others who know you well and can guide you.
The application process itself is as follows.
Meet with the Principal of PTC. This is required, and is to be done at an early stage as you consider applying. Even if you have not yet decided to apply, the Principal will always be pleased to meet with you. Make an appointment by calling the College office.
When you meet with the Principal, ask in the office for a copy of the candidate application form.
WIth the endorsement of your minister and Session, apply to the Presbytery by sending the application form to the clerk of Presbytery.
Attend an interview or interviews with your Presbytery. Your Presbytery may ask you to be interviewed by its Candidates’ Committee, and may ask you to attend an interview by the whole Presbytery.
If the Presbytery wishes to approve your application, you will next be required to attend an interview with the Theological Education Committee, a committee of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria. The Presbytery will forward your application paperwork to the secretary of the TEC, and someone from the TEC will contact you to arrange the interview.
If the TEC endorses your application, it will notify the Presbytery, and the Presbytery will then accept you as a candidate. You will initially be on probation for (usually, and at least) one year.
The Presbyterian Theological College will provide the candidate application form. As indicated above, you should request this from the College office at the time of your meeting with the College Principal.
Following a successful period of probationary training, the candidacy is confirmed. You will continue through the rest of the training programme, heading towards ‘exiting’ the College.
In the final year of your studies, your Presbytery will usually take you on trials for licensing, which will at least involve you preaching before and being interviewed by the Presbytery. It is a good idea to remind your Presbytery clerk or the convener of your Presbytery’s candidates’ committee that trials for licence should be scheduled. If you pass your trials, the Presbytery will resolve to license you once it has seen your exit certificate.
At the completion of your studies, you will need to present your exit certificate to your Presbytery so that your Presbytery can license you. The certificate is issued by the College Committee of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, once that Committee has received advice from the PTC faculty that your studies are complete. There is often little time between the completion of studies and the date set for the service of licensing, so it is a good idea to check with the registrar that the exit certificate has been requested from the College Committee.
The Presbytery will license you to preach the Word. You are then a ‘licentiate’ (and can take the title, ‘Reverend’).
Ordinarily, you will be appointed to a congregation by the Exit Students Committee of the General Assembly of Victoria (although there is an option to head towards a missionary ministry). The appointment is often made in the middle of your final year of study, on the assumption that you will complete all necessary steps to exit and be licensed. The Committee will meet with you to discuss what type of pastoral appointment you think you would be suited for.
The appointment will be for 12 months, during which time the congregation will decide if it wants to call you. If you are called, the Presbytery may move to ordain you to the ministry of the Word and Sacraments and to induct you into the pastoral charge of the congregation.
Being admitted to probationary candidature is not the same as applying for an ACT course or enrolling in units at PTC. If you are undertaking an ACT course, please follow the usual student application and semester enrolment procedures (see the ‘Apply’ and ‘Semester enrolment’ pages). On the student application form, you need to complete the ACT section but do not need to provide the supplementary information in the PTC section of the form.
If you are a minister from another denomination wishing to transfer into the Presbyterian Church of Australia, this will be handled by the Reception of Ministers Committee of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Australia. You may contact the convener directly. If you want to discuss your situation, you are most welcome to make an appointment to speak to the Principal.
Once the ROM Committee has assigned a course of study to you to undertake at PTC, you are responsible for arranging a meeting with the Academic Dean to discuss how the course can best be implemented for you. It is also your responsibility to make sure you enrol every semester as appropriate according to the agreed plan. You will need to complete the usual application and enrolment forms and submit them to the registrar.
For the duration of your studies, you are under the academic oversight of the PTC faculty, and should refer all academic issues and concerns to your lecturers and the Academic Dean. The ROM Committee is not responsible for setting individual unit requirements. The Academic Dean will advise the ROM Committee when you have completed the course of training to the satisfaction of the faculty.
ROM applicants and candidates for the ministry are both called ‘candidates’ at PTC, but be alert to the intended meaning. Helpfully, ‘candidates’ receive a significant scholarship towards the cost of their studies, and this refers to ROM candidates and candidates for the ministry. However, ‘candidates’ are required to attend chapel, the annual mission, and so on (see below), but this usually refers only to candidates for the ministry (though ROM candidates are most welcome to be more involved).
The Supervised Field Education (SFE) is the element of training in which students are actively involved in ministry and in reflection on this ministry in congregational and other settings.
The aims of the SFE program are to assist students to develop:
The goals of SFE relate to ministry formation. The PTC course of training also involves theological formation and spiritual formation. The course is integrated, so SFE will involve aspects of ‘theological formation’ and ‘spiritual formation’, however these are not the primary focus of SFE.
Ordinarily, a student is enrolled in SFE over 4 years (8 semesters).
During the first two years, SFE involves having a certain number of sermons reviewed and attending college mission.
In the latter two years, SFE is much more involved: the major element of SFE in the latter two years is training in a ministry placement with an SFE Trainer.
A year runs from February to November. Semester 1 is from February to June and Semester 2 is from July to November.
The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Australia requires candidates to be trained at degree standard. Candidates are typically enrolled in one or more of the undergraduate or graduate awards of the Australian College of Theology.
Candidates typically work towards a combined BTh/BMin or MDiv/GradDipDiv, by undertaking four degree units per semester over four years. Other degree options are possible, including graduating with an MTS.
Candidates are under the supervision of the faculty and are required to attend daily chapel, the annual Ministry Conference, MTS intensives, Open Day, Commencement Service, and the end-of-year dinner.
The fees of candidates for the ministry of the Presbyterian Church of Australia are heavily subsidised by funding from the General Assembly of Victoria. This subsidy is automatically granted to candidates with no need to apply, including candidates accepted through the Reception of Ministers Committee.
Full-time candidates working towards combined degrees may be eligible for Youth Allowance or Austudy for the full four years of study. Eligibility is determined by Centrelink and applications should be made directly with the Department of Human Services.
A limited number of small bursaries are available to candidates, normally granted to those who are not receiving Centrelink payments. Further information regarding these bursaries is available upon application to the Principal.