Acts is a non-degree, basic course of theological studies for diaconal education and candidates for ordination who have special circumstances.

The Alternative Clergy Training at Sewanee (ACTS) program offers theological training for deacons and part-time or non-stipendiary priests in small congregations. These congregations can fulfill an essential role in the Church, ministering to underserved communities and engaging with the world in unique ways. ACTS was developed in response to the growing need for trained clergy in these communities.ACTS partners with dioceses to provide comprehensive training for deacons and for priests for small-church, missional contexts, with an emphasis on leadership and evangelism in the context of the six canonical areas (Bible, Theology, History, Ethics, Christian Worship, and Ministry in Contemporary Society). The program comprises eight modules (outlined below), which represent the academic portion of students’ preparation for ministry. It is expected that dioceses will see to the other areas of preparation, including field education and spiritual formation. ACTS is intended for those in priestly formation for whom, in the judgment of their bishop, full-time residential seminary is not feasible. It is not designed to be a substitute for the Master of Divinity degree, which is considered the most comprehensive preparation for the priesthood. Nor is it designed to provide formation in the Anglican tradition for students who have completed theological training elsewhere.

The Components
  • The academic component represented by the modules outlined below and provided by the School of Theology.
  • The practice of ministry component designed and provided by the diocese.
  • The designation by the bishop of a mentor who will meet regularly with the student for supervision, reflection, and coaching.
  • The office of contextual education of the School of Theology has resources to assist the diocese in creating components 2 and 3 above. 
  • Modules are taught by seminary faculty and other similarly qualified instructors. The modules maintain a high academic standard while also allowing students needed flexibility.
  • Each module has a residential portion in Sewanee and a non-residential, online portion. Modules begin with a one-week intensive residency. The residency is followed by online work and regular contact with instructors. Modules conclude with another intensive residency week.
  • Spring modules begin in January and conclude in June; fall modules begin in June and conclude in January.
  • While in Sewanee, students participate in community life and worship with faculty and students in the seminary’s degree programs.
  • Students may enter the two-year cycle of modules at any point.
  • At the end of each module, receive a written evaluation of their work and a copy of the evaluation will be sent to their bishop.
  • In the Fall of Year 2, students in the priestly track will take the “Pastoral Theology” module. Students in the diaconal track will take the “Diakonia” module, which includes the history and theology of the diaconate and practical skills for diaconal ministry.
Year 1                       

Spring: Module 1: Old Testament and Preaching                                   
Module 2: New Testament and Preaching                        

Fall: Module 1: Christian Ethics and Moral Theology                                   
Module 2: The Practice of Ministry in Contemporary Society            

Year 2                        

Spring: Module 1: History of the Christian Church                                   
Module 2: Christian Theology                        

Fall: Module 1: Pastoral Theology/Diakonia                                   
Module 2: Prayer Book and Liturgy

Admissions and Fees

Because of the wide variety of backgrounds anticipated in those who will participate in the program, the decision to participate in the programs rests solely with the bishop of the diocese from which the student comes.Tuition is $2,500 for each session. This is exclusive of food, lodging, and transportation. Costs of the program will be borne by the diocese from which the student originates. Whether the diocese passes the bill along to the student, to the parish the student serves, or in some other manner shares the cost of the program is solely at the discretion of the sending bishop.


An online registration form may be accessed here.  For more information, please contact Bishop James Tengatenga by email  at by phone at 931.598.1474 for questions or details.