The School of the Laity is a groundbreaking lay education ministry of the Savannah Presbytery, sponsored and conducted by the Education and Training Ministry Team. The intent of this program is to prepare lay people for their Christian witness to the world. The Church exists for the sake of the world to do the will of God as revealed in Jesus Christ (John 3:16).
Focused on Scripture, reformed theology, and ministry, the School of the Laity is a two-year program of weekend classes with additional homework and preparation time. Students participate in a total of three summer sessions, two fall sessions, and two spring sessions. As evidence of their serious intent, students pay tuition fees and provide for their own transportation costs.
Classes are held at the beautiful Epworth by the Sea Conference Center on St. Simons Island, GA. Graduates can later apply to enter the Commissioned Ruling Elder Program, a continuing education program that prepares individuals for ministry, and possible commissioning to a church or ministry.
In the fall of 1988, ten laypeople of Savannah Presbytery became the first graduating class of an innovative presbytery ministry know as the School of the Laity. A very demanding program of study requiring a two-year commitment and additional hours of class and preparation time, the School of the Laity was a vision of then Executive Presbyter Dr. J. Richard Bass, who saw the desire of laypersons to engage in serious study of scripture, theology, and ministry.
The students participate in two summer courses taught by college professors. Each session involves eighteen hours of class time and additional hours of personal study. The courses are: Introduction to the Bible and Introduction to Reformed Theology. In the final summer, they complete their studies with an in-depth course in Practical Ministry. Students complete briefer courses in the spring and fall of two successive years. Savannah Presbytery ministers lead studies on Old Testament, New Testament, History, Mission & Polity and Practical Ministry. To date over 250 laypeople have participated in the School of the Laity, representing two-thirds of the churches of the presbytery. Its graduates are providing outstanding leadership in their congregations, the presbytery and the Presbyterian Church (USA).