The South Carolina Presbyterian Lay School of Theology is for lay persons who wish to:

1.  Participate in an in-depth study of the Bible, Theology, or Church History.
2. Be trained as a Commissioned Ruling Elder.
3. Better prepare themselves to teach the Bible or Church School.
4. Serve as Directors of Christian Education.
5. Be certified by the Association of Presbyterian Administrators.

Lay School is held over a weekend at Presbyterian College twice a year.  The fall session will be held October 12-14, 2018. The spring session will be held March 22-24, 2019.The registration brochure will be available in September.  The school has two tracks. The Lay Pastor (LP) Track is for ruling elders who would like to become eligible for lay preaching.  The Lay Enrichment (LE) Track is for any Presbyterian who wishes to learn more about theology, polity, Bible, Church History, etc.   For more details about upcoming Lay School weekends, please get on the Lay School mailing list, contact Janis K. Blocker, registrar, at or

More Information

The Lay School of Theology, a joint venture of the five South Carolina presbyteries, is offered twice yearly on weekends in the spring and fall at Presbyterian College, Clinton, South Carolina. Sessions begin with dinner on Friday and conclude after the worship service on Sunday. Participants stay in a local hotel and are served lunch and dinner in the dining hall at the college.  General sessions, classes, and worship take place in the Harrington-Peachtree building.

Participants are lay persons (ordained and non-ordained) who desire in-depth study of Bible, church history, and theology.  Faculty members are ministers and Presbyterian educators, active or retired, with particular interest in this enterprise.  Several courses are offered at each session (core courses and electives).

The LAY ENRICHMENT TRACK (LE) is for members-at-large interested in learning more about the Bible, about being Presbyterian, and about spiritual growth. The participants do not have to be ordained. The courses require no exams nor tests. Lay Enrichment and Lay Pastor participants take the same course, but the LP Track participants have to complete extra work. The coursework for LE participants is purely for enrichment, and no endorsement from the presbytery is required.

The LAY PASTOR TRACK (LP) is for ordained ruling elders interested in acquiring the necessary training for eligibility to become Commissioned Ruling Elders (CRE) (Book of Order G-2.1001, 2.1002) and requires endorsement by the Session Council and the Committee on Ministry of the presbytery.  LP Track participants are assigned a take-home test or essay to be completed, submitted, and graded by the professor by a certain date.

Participants receive a “certificate” (LE Track) or “diploma” (LP Track) upon completion of the cycle of core courses (Old Testament, New Testament, Church History, Reformed Theology, Polity, Worship and Sacraments, Pastoral Care).  An additional course, Preaching, is required for LP participants.  To complete the full cycle will require 7 or 8 sessions (in about 4 years).

Additional benefits of the Lay School include opportunities for fellowship and camaraderie with other participants and faculty in a relaxing weekend away from the distractions of the usual weekly routine.  Many students return time after time for these reasons as much as for the course contents.

The Two Track Approach

The S.C. Lay School of Theology offers a two-track approach to receiving either a certificate or a diploma. Ordained or non-ordained students may enroll in the Lay Enrichment (LE) Track. The Lay Pastor Track (LP) is provided for ruling elders who want to become Lay Pastor candidates. They must receive endorsement from their Session and from the Committee on Ministry of Presbytery. Once the endorsement is complete, a copy of the form will be sent to the registrar of the school.

LE Track students and LP Track students will enroll in and attend the same classes. Students in the LP Track will be assigned extra reading and will complete an examination or paper to be graded by the Lay School faculty who teach the course. Faculty who teach LP track students will receive extra compensation for the extra responsibilities. This additional cost will be covered by a $20 academic fee paid by the student for each course taken. A student in the Lay Pastor Track (LP) will have a deadline for submitting work to be graded. If the student does not submit the work by the deadline date, then the professor will report “no work submitted” for the record, and the student will have to re-take the course. February 15 is the deadline for receipt of work for the fall session; July 1 is the deadline for receipt of work for the spring session.

Certificate or Diploma graduates of the school will be able to continue taking courses through Continuing Education (CE) coursework. Students who receive a diploma in the Lay Pastor Track will be required to take one refresher course per year in Continuing Education (CE) in order to keep the diploma validated.

Core Courses for the Lay Enrichment Track:

  1. Worship and Sacraments (Spring)
  2. Old Testament Survey (Spring)
  3. New Testament Survey (Fall)
  4. Reformed Theology (Fall)
  5. Polity (Spring)
  6. Church History (Spring)
  7. Pastoral Care (Fall)

Core Courses for the Lay Pastor Track:

  1. Old Testament Survey (Spring)
  2. New Testament Survey (Fall)
  3. Reformed Theology (Fall)
  4. Polity (Spring)
  5. Church History (Spring)
  6. Pastoral Care (Fall)
  7. Worship and Sacraments (Spring)
  8. Preaching (Fall)

In each presbytery, the Committee on Ministry has supervision over Commissioned Ruling Elders. In order to enter the LP track at the Lay School, a student must be a ruling elder, who is endorsed for the LP Track by the Session of the student’s church and by the Committee on Ministry of the presbytery. A student may enroll in the LP Track pending endorsement; however, all endorsements must be received by the registrar prior to the next session of Lay School in order for the student to continue in the LP Track. If courses have been taken prior to 2002 (when the two- track system was adopted) in the Lay School, it is up to the Committee to determine whether or not those courses count toward commissioning as a lay pastor.

If a student is enrolled in the Lay School and completes the required core course work (seven courses), then a Lay School of Theology certificate in the Lay Enrichment Track will be awarded. If a ruling elder completes the course work (eight courses) with satisfactory grades, then the ruling elder will receive the Lay School of Theology diploma in the Lay Pastor Track. Receiving a diploma in the Lay Pastor Track only certifies the ruling elder’s eligibility for commissioning if a presbytery issues a call. If called, the ruling elder must be examined and approved by presbytery in order to be commissioned for a specific call.