The Reading and Tutorial Course gives them the opportunity to learn the basic academic disciplines through distance education, parallel to their work and family obligations. Note that the course does not include practical training in ministry; if used to prepare for ordination, it is meant to be completed by the 8 month residential In-Ministry Year offered at the College.
Increasingly, some dioceses are using the Reading and Tutorial Program, or portions of it, as training for vocation deacons.
Yes, many people take the course to deepen their understanding of the Bible and the Christian tradition, without intending to be ordained. It may also be a first step in seeing what is involved in theological study, as part of a process of discernment.
The units are done one at a time, at your own pace. You will be asked to read an introductory book in the field, and to journal your learnings and thoughts. On the basis of this reading you will write a series of short papers on specific questions and submit them to the College for marking. You will meet with your tutor, a theologically trained person from your community, several times over the course of each unit to discuss the material, ask questions, and receive guidance in how to approach the assignments.
The twelve units give an introduction to the standard academic disciplines that belong to theological study:
- Old Testament Introduction
- New Testament Introduction
- Church History to 1500
- World Religions
- Systematic Theology
- Church History after 1500
- Philosophy of Religion
- Major Theologians
- Old Testament Theology
- New Testament Theology
As you will be doing it alongside other commitments (work, family, church) you will need to reserve a certain amount of time regularly (two hours a day, perhaps) in which you can work intentionally. The danger is that everything else in your life will simply crowd it out. Many students who begin the program bog down fairly quickly. It is not for everyone; you may find that you need a more structured course of study to make the progress you hope for.
If you have already completed courses at any seminary, you can apply to have these credited toward the Reading and Tutorial Program. We look to see whether they cover the same ground as any of the Reading and Tutorial units. If they are equivalent, we will grant you an exemption for that unit of the program.
In addition, you may take other courses once you have begun the Reading and Tutorial Program. In fact, we would strongly encourage you to do so. If there is a seminary or university in your area, we would encourage you to take some courses there to be credited toward the Reading and Tutorial. It will give you the experience of being in the classroom, and help you to get some of the units behind you in a scheduled manner. Again, we would have to approve the individual courses in advance, to be sure that they correspond to the contents of the Reading and Tutorial Course. In total, you may credit up to 6 external courses toward Reading and Tutorial units.
It is the responsibility of the College to appoint a tutor. In practice, however, outside of the Montreal area, we need to rely on local knowledge to find a tutor. We will ask for suggestions from you and from your diocese or rector. Required is someone with a M.Div. degree or higher; it may be a local clergy person (or your own or another denomination), or a theologically educated layperson (a professor of theology, for example).
Keep in mind, however, that it is important that your tutor have time to meet with you regularly. Retired clergy often make good tutors, if they are eager to revisit their theological studies.
If your application to the program is accepted, we will be in contact with you about finding a tutor for you.
We will mail to you an inquirer’s package with more information on the program and an application form.
If you have questions or would like to discuss whether the program is for you, please call the Principal Dr. John Simons, at the above number.