Why do you love EfM?
Because of the unique format to study scripture and history, and being given an opportunity to discern and articulate more clearly my ministry in God’s world. -Barbara delCaro Scaia
I encountered EfM in my twenties, and it helped me claim my ministry as an artist and supported me spiritually when I went through graduate school. -Meg Bussey
Every baptized person is called to ministry. The Education for Ministry (EfM) program provides people with the education to carry out that ministry. During the Service of Confirmation we ask God to “Renew in these your servants the covenant you made with them at Baptism. Send them forth in the power of the Spirit to perform the service you set before them.” EfM offers an opportunity to discover how to respond to the call to Christian service.
Education for Ministry (EfM) is a small-group learning program (6-12 members meeting with a trained mentor) where members study, worship, and engage in theological reflection together in order to help participants respond to their baptismal call to Christian service. A group meets weekly for 21/2 to 3 hours, over a nine-month academic year.
The study of Christian tradition is divided into four years, Year One-the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) Year Two-the New Testament Year Three-the history of Christianity Year Four-Theology, Ethics, and Interfaith Encounter.
In each year, the group works together to listen to one another, and provide a comfortable space for discernment of individual gifts through the feedback of the group. Some choose to participate for one year, some members find it compelling enough to enroll for each of the four years, there is no requirement to commit to more than one year at a time.
In ECMN the program has been continuously in existence since it was begun by the University of the South’s School of Theology in 1975. For more information about the program go to it’s website, http://theology.sewanee.edu/academics/education-for-ministry/.
Every EfM group is a unique group of people which changes each year as individuals complete the year, some completing all four of the possible years and thus “graduating”. Others complete just one year.
Each group has a mentor, or sometimes a pair of mentors, who supervise their meetings, assist with directing discussion, give guidance and support when learning the processes of theological reflection. These leaders are required to participate in regular mentor training to update skills every 18 months. Group size must be at a minimum six and a maximum twelve persons to ensure that there is time and space for individuals to explore their calling and ministry. Material is designed for lay people, but can certainly provide challenge for the ordained!
The lesson materials and texts used are designed to incorporate ideas from each of the four years which students may be studying, and there are several points in the year when the entire group reads the same material in order to provide some bridging activity for the group. IT IS USUAL FOR A GROUP TO INCLUDE STUDENTS AT MORE THAN ONE YEAR OF STUDY. This works because the group meeting is not a lecture session, the mentors do not present materials, materials are presented for students to read independently and follow up on as deeply as they are interested. Students enrolled in year one study the Old Testament, in year two the New Testament, in year three worldwide church history from the early church to recent times. Year four explores contemporary issues and forward-looking themes.
The program began forty years ago, and materials have been updated along the way.
The most recent update is still underway, with the Year D book still under construction by it’s writer. Groups in progress at this time (spring 2016) are using Year “C” materials. For more information about what books are being used for each of the four years go to the national website: http://efm.sewanee.edu. Letters A, B, C, D indicate a theme for the entire year.
Our diocese has been an active participant in this program for almost its entire history, and the roster of those who have graduated from all four years of the program is impressive (350+ individuals). This number does not include all those who have participated for one year or more. In the past, the program has been used here and in other places nationally and internationally as part of preparations for ordination, when time and distance have made seminary class attendance difficult.
Co-Coordinators for the program for ECMN are Meg Bussey, firstname.lastname@example.org. and the Rev. Barbara delCaro Scaia, email@example.com. Look for a list of currently meeting groups, their times and locations at the top of this page, or contact one of them directly.