The Structure of the Course
The course generally begins on the last Sunday in September. The first two years comprise a basic foundation in the first year and a more intensive deepening in the second year. Each year is divided into three trimesters lasting ten or eleven weeks respectively. These two years are then followed by a practical year in a congregation.
During the two-year training at the Seminary most students live together under the same roof. The services, the meals and the teaching of courses all take place within this communal setting. The life in community fosters in particular the quality of social empathy and the taking on of social responsibility. The structure of the daily timetable has a beneficial, nurturing character, which however each individual needs to complement in a way that is right for him or her personally.
The First Year (Foundation Year)
The content of the basic Foundation Year is organised in such a way that priestly qualities are awakened and fostered in each individual. Students come to the realisation that everyone today is standing on a certain threshold and that we are ever and again in need of receiving impulses from beyond this threshold. This awareness comes about through the various theoretical and practical courses, through the nurturing of a common religious life and through the experience and realisation of community life. In this way, a foundation is laid for each one to decide in which direction to guide his or her own life path, irrespective of its connection with the Christian Community.
The main morning courses are very diverse in content. Together with theological and religious themes, relating to the Creed, the Gospels, the Old Testament and study of the Sacraments for example, other more philosophically orientated themes, such as Scholasticism, German Idealism, the Theory of Knowledge and similar anthroposophically related subjects, as well as scientific subjects, such as the Theory of Colour, Botany and Geology, all play an important part in the course.
Students are guided along a path, which leads not just to experiences of a religious nature but also towards a gaining of trust in the process of cognition and indeed towards the cultivation of a love for all creation. The development of the senses also undergoes a certain schooling, for the decreasing capacity to really observe through our senses is becoming ever more difficult.
Eurythmy, Modelling and Bothmer Gymnastics all foster a healthy relationship to our own physical body and thereby engender a healthy relationship to the world. The study of Ancient Greek provides a particular challenge to the students, and not only those who come from abroad. Nevertheless, this subject gives the students the possibility of coming to an understanding of the New Testament in its original language.
Second Year (Consolidation Year)
In the Consolidation Year, a greater emphasis is laid on the actual priest training as such: in other words, on gaining the qualities the priest needs for his work in a congregation. The teaching of religion, the leading of conversation and discussion groups, the study of the human being, practising sermons, as well as continued work on the Gospels and the fundamental principles of anthroposophy make up the bulk of the ongoing courses. An increasing aim of the sessions is to hand over more and more responsibility to the students themselves. The content of the main morning courses in the second year is also more narrowly focussed on the profession of the priest, and seeks to impart all corresponding knowledge relevant to this work.
In each trimester two weeks of main morning courses are freed up. During this time the students work independently on their own projects, which they have chosen for themselves, inspired by their work on the Gospel of John, the Letters of St. Paul and the Apocalypse. They can choose a mentor to accompany this work from either within or indeed outside the Seminary. At the end of this year they present the findings of their projects in written form, but also orally in a talk lasting about an hour to one of the congregations.
The Third Year (Practical Year in a Congregation)
The third year of the course is practically based. The students spend a year on their own in a congregation, where they can begin to put all that they have learnt at the Seminar into practice. In this way, they get to know the different fields of work priests are involved in; they get an insight into all the events and areas of responsibility within the congregation; and they attend and should take on partial responsibility for some of the religion lessons in a Waldorf School. They should also have the experience of actively taking part in the running of certain groups within the congregation.
Within a congregation, it soon becomes clear whether, alongside the inner process which will hopefully have taken place during the course, the possibility for social engagement is also present or can at least be developed. In terms of whether someone has the potential for becoming a priest in the Christian Community, it is not so important what the individual him- or herself brings as personal gifts, but rather whether he or she has the social skills to facilitate, and carry responsibility for, the life of the congregation.
Preparation for Ordination
In the final course lasting about five months the candidates are prepared for the actual ordination itself, so that already about three weeks after the event they can take up their work in a congregation.