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Diaconal Studies Program

Academic Preparation for the Diaconate in the Episcopal Church


  Each Episcopal Diocese has its own unique and specific course requirements in meeting the National Church Canons in the academic preparation of individuals for the Diaconate. Providence Theological School offers courses at the Associates (AS), Bachelors (B) and Masters (M) levels with the Associates level being the least difficult and the Masters level being the most challenging. For any specific area of study you will only want to take one (1) of any similar courses. You will also want to consult with your Diocese regarding their preferences. In some instances particular courses may be optional.

The Episcopal Canons require study in the following major areas:
(A) Biblical Studies
      (1) Hebrew Scriptures and/or
      (2) Christian Scriptures

(B) Theology
(C) Tradition of the Church
(D) Human Awareness and Understanding
(E) Diakonia and the Diaconate
(F) Spiritual Development and Discipline
(G) Practical Training and Experience

Upon completion of a minimum of 24 credit hours (six (6) courses) in the above areas approved by your diocese, or in conjunction with a course of study developed for you in consultation with the Theological School, PTS will award a Certificate in Diaconal Studies.

The following represent possible PTS courses that may fulfill these requirements. There are also other courses that might be considered. Check the PTS online Course Catalog for additional possibilities (we offer over 200 courses for ministerial students).


Hebrew Scriptures
AS-101. Beginnings of the Old Testament. A survey of the history of the period, looking at the origins of these writings and a discussion of their content. 4 credits.
Prerequisites: None.
Required Text(s): Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction by Lawrence Boadt.

B-101. Introduction to the Old Testament. An introduction to the broad theological scope and chronological sweep of the Old Testament. Covering each book of the Old Testament in the order in which it appears in the Hebrew Bible. 4 credits.
Prerequisites: one.
Required Text(s): An Introduction to the Old Testament: The Canon and Christian Imagination by Walter Brueggemann.

AS-105. Prophets and Prophetic Books. A brief introduction to each of the Bible's prophets and their prophetic books, developing the theological themes present in each with an eye toward how the prophetic message is relevant today. 4 credits.
Prerequisites: None.
Required Text(s): Old Testament Prophets for Today by Carolyn J. Sharp.

Christian Scriptures
AS-110. Beginnings of the New Testament. An overview of the canon of Scripture comprising the New Testament including a survey of the varying methodologies historically employed in interpreting these writings and the significance of their content. 4 credits.
Prerequisites: None.
Required Text(s): An Introduction to the New Testament: Contexts, Methods and Ministry Formation by David A. deSilva.
Optional Text(s): Horizontal Harmony of the Four Gospels in Parallel Columns by Thomas M. Mumford.

B-120. Introduction to the New Testament. Covers the entire scope of the New Testament, moving book by book through the basic content and issues of the New Testament. 4 credits.
Prerequisites: B-101 or B-110
Required Text(s): An Introduction to the NEW Testament by Raymond E. Brown.

B-150. The Narrative of Mark's Gospel. A study that can be used in any contemporary setting which develops insights from analysis of the text's rhetoric, its temporal and spatial frames, its plot and characters. The intent is to impress upon the reader the importance of understanding Mark on its own terms as a narrative. 4 credits.
Prerequisites: None.
Required Text(s): Mark as Story, Second Edition by David Rhoads.


AS-201. Introduction to Theology. An introduction to the study of Christian Doctrine. A clear, comprehensive yet understandable exploration of the often neglected area of Doctrine. The course surveys a diverse array of religious beliefs without prejudice toward a particular creed or denomination. 4 credits.
Prerequisites: None.
Required Text(s): A Primer for Christian Doctrine by Jonathan R. Wilson.

B-201. Fundamentals of Theology. An introduction to all the major beliefs of the Christian faith in terms acceptable to a wide variety of believers. In additional to the traditional topics, the additional topics of creationism, the devil, miracles, the virgin birth and more are explored. 4 credits.
Prerequisites: None.
Required Text(s): The Faith of the Christian Church by Tyron Inbody.

M-201. Systematic Theology Covers all the major Christian Doctrines from revelation to eschatology. A thoroughly Trinitarian rethinking of Godís power and purpose in the world today. 4 credits.
Prerequisites: None.
Required Text(s): Faith Seeking Understanding by Daniel L. Migliore.

M-207. Modern Theology. Systematically compares orthodox, liberal and radical approaches on such topics as the Bible in theology, creation, sin, feminist liberation theology, grace, Black Church theology, the cross and resurrection. 4 credits.
Prerequisites: None.
Required Text(s): Thinking About God by Dorothee Solle.

AS-210. Introduction to Christology. An ecumenical, international, and contextual introduction to the person of Christ in contemporary theology, both in Western academy and in third-world theologies. It offers three main perspectives on Christology (biblical, historical, and contemporary) and combines classical and contextual work done in Christology over the course of church history. 4 credits.
Prerequisites: AS-201
Required Text(s): Christology: A Global Introduction by Veli Matti Karkkainen.

B-285. Theology & Poverty. To adopt the viewpoint of the poor is to discover the Gospel anew as the Good News of Jesus Christ, liberator of the victims of every form of oppression. 4 credits.
Prerequisites: None.
Required Text(s): When Theology Listens to the Poor by Leonardo Boff.

AS-301. Ethics in the Christian Community . This course articulates the shared features of Christian faith and shows how that communal commitment forms our values, character, virtues, and "eagerness to do what is right." Who we are informs what we choose. This dynamic, dialogical basis for ethics is an open framework. This is applied it to a host of tough, real-life dilemmas such as affirmative action, end-of-life decisions, medical ethics, truth telling, environmental justice, and war-making. 4 credits.
Prerequisites: None.
Required Text(s): Ethics in the Community of Promise: Faith, Formation and Decision by James M. Childs, Jr.


AS-401. Early Church History. The history of the Christian Church from Apostolic times to the beginnings of the Protestant Reformation. 4 credits.
Prerequisites: None.
Required Text(s): A Short History of Christianity by Stephen Tomkins.

B-401. Introduction to Church History I. The standard text in many college classrooms over the nation. What separates this book from others is its clarity, both of language and organization. This book treats history as the story of people-their motivations, the issues they grapple with, the decisions they made--and the result that is history reads like a story almost as dramatic and moving as a novel. Spans the Age of Jesus and the Apostles - through the Reformation (6 BC - 1648). [Specific Chapters in Study Guide] . 4 credits.
Prerequisites: None.
Required Text(s): Church History in Plain Language, Second Edition by Bruce L. Shelley.

M-415. Christian History from a Global Perspective. In a sweeping overview, this course points out that Christianity was a global faith from its inception. From the ancient land of Israel through Asia Minor and North Africa, Christianity rapidly spread through the Mediterranean basin, and thus to Europe, North American, and finally to the global south. Martin Marty's emphasis here is on the spiritual side of the Christianity, with the institutions taking a back seat. 4 credits.
Prerequisites: None.
Required Text(s): The Christian World: A Global History (Modern Library Chronicles) by Martin Marty.

AS-430. The Episcopal Church in the United States. † Beginning with the church of colonial times and the formation of the Episcopal Church thereafter, the evolution and issues of this branch of the Christian tradition will be traced to the present time. 4 credits.
Prerequisites: None.
Required Text(s): A Brief History of the Episcopal Church by David L. Holmes.

M-431. The History of the Episcopal Church. An insightful and all-encompassing chronicle spanning 400 years tracing the fascinating rise of the Episcopal Church, founded in an age of fragmentation and molded by the powerful movements of American history: the Great Awakening; the American Revolution; the Civil War; two World Wars and the Depression; and the social upheavals of the post World War II years. 4 credits.
Prerequisites: None.
Required Text(s): History of the Episcopal Church - Revised Edition by Robert W. Prichard.

AS-225. The Creeds in Christianity. The course depicts how and why the two most familiar Christian creeds - the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed - came into being. It explores how creeds originated in instruction before baptism and have their roots in the New Testament itself. Then it describes the construction of the great Christian doctrines of the Trinity and Incarnation. 4 credits.
Prerequisites: None.
Required Text(s): The Making of the Creeds by Frances Young.


AS-501. Introduction to Pastoral Care. This course identifies three paradigms of pastoral care: the classical, which conveys the message of God who caringly creates human beings for relationship and continues to care by hearing and remembering them; the clinical pastoral, which emphasizes the experimental and reflective participation in caring relationships as an ideal way to learn about caregiving for self and others; and the communal contextual, which emphasizes the caring community and the various contexts for care rather than focusing upon pastoral care as the work of the ordained pastor. 4 credits.
Prerequisites: None.
Required Text(s): Pastoral Care in Context: An Introduction to Pastoral Care by John Patton.

B-501. Introducing Pastoral Care. This course provides a basis of counseling ministry - Christ's indwelling presence that brings the power of the incarnation into wounded lives. Deals with healing, spirituality and Christian life. Jungian perspective in the tradition of Dorothy Sayers and C.S. Lewis. 4 credits
. Prerequisites: None.
Required Text(s): The Healing Presence by Leanne Payne.

M-501. Fundamental Pastoral Care. Valuable for both seminary students and practicing ministers, this basic work integrates theology and pastoral care in a practical and useful way. With activities and questions for personal reflection, this much-needed work brings about a new awareness of the ministry of pastoral care. 4 credits.
Prerequisites: None.
Required Text(s): Introduction to Pastoral Care by William V. Arnold.

AS-520. Families in Transition. The sense of lostness often comes in times of transition, whether moving from one city to another, a health crisis, loss of a family member through death of divorce, or downsizing at work. This course is intended to provide insights through the wilderness of transition. To get back on track one needs to begin to make hard choices: to be found by God and others, to feel, to find meaning in the pain, and ultimately, to flourish. 4 credits.
Prerequisites: None.
Required Text(s): Grace Points: Growth & Guidance in Times of Change by Jane Rubietta.


AS-810. The Order of the Diaconate. A study of the development of the office of the deacon in the early church and situated today within the context of the church's total ministry. 4 credits.
Prerequisites: None.
Required Text(s): The Diaconate: A Full and Equal Order by James Monroe Barnett.

M-834. An Introduction to the Diaconate This course includes a history of deacons in the early church, a survey of deacons from the Reformation to the present, stories of modern diaconal ministries, including first-hand accounts, and a discussion of the formation, training, and deployment of deacons. A comprehensive look at this vital ministry in the Episcopal Church today. 4 credits.
Prerequisites: None.
Required Text(s): Many Servants, Revised Edition: An Introduction to Deacons by Ormonde Plater.


AS-601. Personal Spirituality. This course Seeks to help us "rejoin soul and role," so that individuals and communities can be healed from the ravages of consumerism, injustice and violence. No small task, yet this mission is fleshed out with stories, poems, personal confessions and a plan-concrete steps for creating "circles of trust" where honest, open sharing allows each person's "inner teacher" to show up. 4 credits.
Prerequisites: None.
Required Text(s): A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life by Parker J. Palmer.

AS-630. Essentials of Prayer. A down-to-earth approach to the essentials of Prayer. Answers many questions of the spiritual life, such as How do we learn to listen to God in our prayer and How do we develop a life of prayer in the midst of busy, active lives?. 4 credits.
Prerequisites: None.
Required Text(s): The Practice of Prayer by Margaret Guenther.


AS-801. Introduction to Preaching. A methodology for taking the literary characteristics of biblical texts into account in the text-to-sermon process. That process is applied separately for preaching on the psalms, proverbs, narratives, parables and epistles. 4 credits.
Prerequisites: None.
Required Text(s): Preaching and the Literary Forms of the Bible by Thomas Long.

B-840. Using the Prayer Book in Liturgy. Presented in the Episcopal tradition, intended to provide a background and reference for use of the Book of Common Prayer. 4 credits.
Prerequisites: None.
Required Text(s): Prayer Book Rubrics Expanded by Byron D. Stuhlman.

M-836. Deacons in the Liturgy of the Church. This short course is a how-to guide that spells out in great detail the liturgical functions of deacons in the Episcopal Church. Different portions focus on deacons in rites of Christian initiation, the Eucharist, ordinations, seasonal celebrations, daily office, and various pastoral liturgies (marriages, reconciliations, burials). It is an excellent guide for appropriate diaconal participation in liturgy. 4 credits.
Prerequisites: None.
Required Text(s): Deacons in the Liturgy by Ormonde Plater.

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