School for Ministry - Courses of Study


The core program of the School for Ministry supports the academic formation of those called to the diaconate in the Diocese of Long Island. Our primary focus is on meeting the "competencies" requirements set forth in                     Canon III.6.5(f), which call for academic studies in "The Holy Scriptures, theology, and the tradition of the Church." Instructors and students meet one Saturday a month from September to June for three years, with readings and other work between meetings. In addition, training is provided via workshops in such areas as prevention of sexual misconduct and abuse, the Church's teaching on racism, and the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church. Postulants for Holy Orders also are assigned to congregations to further explore their ministries in a parochial setting.

The three years of academic work consist of six four-course semesters (24 courses), organized in the following topical areas:

Holy Scripture (1 HS, 2 OT, 3 NT) – 6 courses;
Church History (CH) – 4 courses;
Theology (TH) – 4 courses;
Liturgics (LT) – 3 courses ;
Proclamation (PR) – 1 course ;
Practical Theology (PT) – 6 courses.

There is an implied and preferred sequence for most of these courses, although students can enter a topical sequence at any point. A diagrammatic representation of the three-year program and short course descriptions are provided below:

Shaded areas in the above picture are open only to those in the ordination process. Other courses are open to Laity, either for credit or audit  Those taking a course for credit will receive a letter grade and certificate of completion upon successful completion of the course.


In addition to the Core Program, the School for Ministry hosts and supports a variety of other programs, including "mandated programs" such as Eucharistic Visitor, "Safe Church," and Racial Awareness trainings. Workshops and courses are periodically conducted to support vestries, church treasurers, lectors, Christian Educators, and other lay leaders. Further information is available under the "Programs and Events" tab on the front page of the Mercer website.


Holy Scripture


The course introduces the study of Holy Scripture: the basics of biblical science, inspiration and canonicity, and a broad outline of the contents and structure of the Old and New Testaments. It also includes a bird's-eye view of the history of the Holy Land. Critical methodologies of biblical interpretation are introduced.



The course introduces the Pentateuch and the Historical Books (Former Prophets) including a synopsis of their outlooks, ideologies, and theologies. The course pays close attention to their literary traditions, historical and cultural contexts, and thematic structures. Selected passages from both the Pentateuch and the Historical Books are exegeted in detail.


The course introduces the Wisdom Books and the (Latter) Prophets including a synopsis of their outlooks, ideologies, and theologies. The course pays close attention to their literary traditions, historical and cultural contexts, and thematic structures. Selected passages from both the Wisdom Books and the Prophets are exegeted in detail.


The course introduces the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). The course looks to their structural similarities and to the meaning(s) of various synoptic pericopes with due regard to their geographical, socio-political, and religious contexts to expose and explain themes and issues in the Synoptics. Selected passages from each of the Synoptic Gospels are exegeted in detail.


The course introduces the Gospel of John, often called the "Fourth Gospel" and seen as a diptych of the "Book of Signs" and the "Book of Glory." The course looks to the Gospel's background, literary structure, theological themes, and Christology. Selected passages of the Gospel are exegeted in detail.


The course introduces the "Gospel according to Paul" and the Acts of the Apostles. It begins with an exposition of St. Paul as he speaks of himself in his letters and as he is spoken of in Acts within his Jewish and Hellenistic milieu. The focus of the course is an introduction to the thirteen letters of the corpus Paulinum. Selected passages from Paul's letters and Acts are exegeted in detail.

Church History


The first 1500 years of the "World Christian Movement." We will discuss the formation of a distinct Christian identity; the development of Christian ministries and institutions; major heresies and schisms; and significant issues and personalities in the Church during the first 1500 years of the Common Era (C.E.). Throughout this course we will develop an Anglican approach to understanding and communicating the rich tradition of the Christian faith. Our purpose is to prepare you to use history pastorally in various ministries and settings.



A broad historical overview of Anglican Christianity. We will briefly look at British religious history during the first 1500 years A.D. and then gradually widen our scope as the English Church followed British traders, entrepreneurs, adventurers and missionaries around the globe, planting the seeds of what would become a loose Anglican Communion and a unique American Episcopal Church. Our purpose is to prepare you to use history pastorally in your various ministries.


An historical exploration of the development and form of Anglican Christianity that emerged in the American Episcopal Church from its initial planting in Jamestown in 1607 to the present day. We will consider the development of a new form of church governance, regional differences in practice and polity, missionary strategies, and the overall response of the Episcopal Church to the needs of Episcopal communities of the faithful in the diverse religious landscape of the United States. Our purpose is to prepare you to use history pastorally in your various ministries.


One hundred fifty years ago the Episcopal Churches in the three counties of Long Island separated from the Diocese of New York to form a new diocese. We will look at how broader trends and theme across the wider Episcopal Church played out on Long Island, as well as view the development of the Diocese through the lens of several of its historic congregations. We will try to answer the question "does the Diocese of Long Island have a distinctive culture/?"



Over four semesters in the second and third years of academic formation, the tools of theological inquiry, analysis and reflection will be applied systematically to enable the student to understand and appreciate the essential doctrines and teachings of the Church in an Anglican context. Such topics as Christology, the Trinity, Ecclesiology, and Pneumatology will be covered from a variety of core documents and writings from key theologians from the patristic, medieval, pre-modern, modern and postmodern periods.

Practical Theology


The program in Practical Theology is a course in ministry style and technique. Over a three-year period, the postulant will study methods of pastoral care using the tools of Theological Reflection, Case Presentation, Role Play, Peer Supervision and Individual Supervision. Each student will bring to our sessions the ministries they are involved with as they begin their process towards ordination. The goal of our program is to get participants to integrate the theology they learn in the class with the theology they apply in ministry. As they work together and share their work and their prayer they will grow in community, making our sessions a model for future peer support and community building.

Liturgy and Proclamation

LT1 Liturgical Theology

Humans are meaning-making creatures and ritual is one of the primary places we make meaning. In the Anglican tradition, if you want to know who we are, experience how we pray. In liturgical theology, we investigate the church at worship. This introductory study includes methodologies for liturgical theology as well as the history and origins of rituals, sacramental theology and pastoral rites.

LT2 Book of Common Prayer

LT3 Practicum and Pastoral Rites

PR1 Proclamation

The great preacher Phillips Brooks defined preaching as the "communication of truth through personality." This course focuses on the practice of preaching from the inside out. Who is the preacher? How can she best use her life, her body and her voice to speak the good news to a weary world? Students will listen to sermons preached by some of the great preachers of the 20th (and 21st) century, reflect on the impact of preaching in their own lives as well as preach and critique sermons in a supportive environment.