Pilgrim Theological College is aiming to tackle those obstacles by removing some of the financial sting to studying theology for those under 35, while providing flexible means of doing so.
The college is offering 10 scholarships that will pay half the fees for full-time, part-time or online students to gain a Diploma in Theology or a Graduate Diploma in Theology through the University of Divinity.
Liam Miller, who after three years of study online has two units to complete before qualifying for a Masters of Divinity from Pilgrim this year, said he encouraged anyone who could apply for the scholarship to do so.
“I have really loved my time at Pilgrim,” the 30-year-old said.
“They keep adding subjects I would do if I wasn’t running out of units.”
Liam lives in Sydney where he works full-time and has a nine-month-old baby.
He enrolled in the Masters course as a step towards candidacy for ministry formation with the Uniting Church in NSW/ACT.
“I was working at Macquarie University with the Uniting Church chaplaincy and I was really enjoying that and wanted to think about doing this as a further and longer career/vocation,” he said.
“So theological study was appealing to help equip me and then I found it was a lot of fun once I started doing it.”
Liam said that Pilgrim emerged as a frontrunner when he asked around where to study.
“Even people I was talking to up in Sydney were saying Pilgrim College had a good reputation,” Liam said.
“From what I had heard and what people had talked about the online program was really good – a good range of subjects, and good subject delivery.”
“Because I was working full-time being able to do it online meant that I could be flexible and do it whenever I had time during the week and not have to put aside blocks to go in for classes and lose time travelling.”
Other than travelling to Melbourne for one intensive course, Liam has completed all his units of study online.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do the amount I’ve done if I wasn’t doing it online,” he said
Liam said the subject matter was delivered in a variety of ways including text-based material with message boards for student feedback, recorded lectures or Skype tutorials and other sessions.
Despite being a remote student Liam said he felt well supported by the college faculty.
“Help is close, you just have to reach out,” he said.
“I found the lecturers really open to helping, to answering questions even if you’re doing it via email or they’ll all usually offer to Skype while you are doing the course.”
“That’s been really helpful.”
Liam said he appreciated Pilgrim’s teaching approach that delved deeply into church doctrine and history but also applied that learning to modern questions.
“A lot of subjects are very contextual, very rubber-hits-the-road,” he said.
Liam gave the example of subjects based around mission and missiology.
“We’re looking at reconciliation both as a biblical concept but also looking at critiques of reconciliation in Australia and what may be a theological approach to reconciliation, how that could rectify some of the issues that the secular model caused here.’
Those applying for the Pilgrim College Under-35 scholarship must be part of and recommended by a UCA congregation or faith community.
The deadline for applications is 1 February.
For more details, an application form and guidelines please click here.