How is your Bible Study going? Are you fulfilling your curiosity about the authors of the gospels, did David write all those Psalms? Who are those Ephesians, and why did Paul write them letters, and what about those Roman lions, did the emperor really slaughter Christians as a sport? Maybe, you just want to dive deeper into the scriptures to understand your faith, find a ministry to contribute to or perhaps just begin a new prayer practice. If these or similar questions have come to mind, then maybe joining an Education for Ministry group this fall might be beneficial to your spiritual growth.
Education for Ministry (EfM) offers a four-year course, covering the basic subjects of theological education: Old Testament, New Testament, Church History, and Theological Topics with such topics as how God is calling us in today's very hectic world to love and serve our neighbor. Participants register for one nine-month academic year at a time and meet locally, or virtually every week in seminar groups of six to twelve participants with a trained mentor(s), for two to three hours.
Each week the participants have readings to complete with various resource guides, then bring their insights and discoveries to the seminar group for discussion and guided reflection. The weekly readings help participants to examine their own beliefs, their relationship to culture and the church, the tradition of the Church, all combined to guide participants into being effective Christians in today’s world. It is an opportunity to be together in a community of seekers, supported by prayer and regular worship, honest, private discussions, laughs, community outreach, and sometimes food! Another way that many EfM participants and graduates use to explain the program is Exploring Faith Matters.
Developed in 1975 by the School of Theology in Sewanee, Tennessee, EfM’s current one-year fee per student is $375, which pays for EfM materials, textbooks, and an honorarium for the mentor. EfM grants 18 Continuing Education Units (CEU) for each year of study. EfM does not grant college credits. Participants commit to one year at a time, and there are no examinations or papers to write, just a willingness to commit to reading the material, meeting each week, and respecting the group dynamics to ensure all participants are comfortable sharing and discussing how the readings inspired, confused, or amazed their relationship with God. The group mentor is not a teacher, but a facilitator who guides the group discussion and is required to train every eighteen months for mentor accreditation. Mentors often experience as much each week as the group participants.
You can find more information on EfM’s website, efm.sewanee.edu. Groups with a September start date are forming now, both in-person and online and participants need not attend church or be Episcopalians to participate. We live in a diverse world, and diversity helps us to understand and love all. For more information on EfM and seminar groups please contact the Efm Coordinator Mark Waldon at email@example.com or this author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next month, I will introduce some of the texts that will be used for the upcoming EfM academic year.