Education for Ministry (EfM)
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 Rite of Confirmation and Renewal of Baptismal Vows 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" (BCP p. 418). EfM offers an opportunity to discover how to respond to the call to Christian service.
Lay persons face the difficult and often subtle task of interpreting the richness of the Church's faith in a complex and confusing world. A theological education supports one’s faith and also teaches individuals to express that faith in day-to-day events. One does not need to be ordained to think theologically or discern one’s ministry.
Sponsored by the University of the South School of Theology in Sewanee, Tennessee, the EfM program is a four-year study and group reflection process for the formation of Christian ministry through the development of knowledge, attitude, skills, and identity as Christians. Published texts and essays provide the primary knowledge content in the study of the Christian tradition. Year One studies the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). The second year offers a study of the New Testament. Year Three provides study of Christian (church) history. Theology, ethics, and interfaith encounter constitute study in the fourth year.
For the 2021-2022 year, our texts are:
- Year 1: A Short Introduction to the Hebrew Bible by John J. Collins and The Hebrew Bible: Feminist & Intersectional Perspectives edited by Gale Yee
- Year 2: Introducing the New Testament by Mark Allan Powell and What Are Biblical Values? by John J. Collins
- Year 3: Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years by Diarmaid MacCulloch
- Year 4: Theology: A Very Short Introduction by David F. Ford, Mysteries of Faith by Mark McIntosh, The Christian Moral Life by Timothy F. Sedgwick, and My Neighbor's Faith edited by Jennifer Howe Peace, Or N. Rose, & Gregory Mobley
- Common Texts for all years: Reading & Reflection Guide, The Dream of God by Verna Dozier, and The Church Cracked Open by Stephanie Spellers.
All of this is accomplished via a seminar group that consists of six to twelve participants and a trained mentor who meet weekly over the course of a nine-month academic year. These meetings are usually from two and a half to three hours in length. Through discussion and guided reflection along with worship, the seminar furnishes an opportunity to deepen understanding of the reading materials. More important is the development of skills in theological reflection. The goal is to learn to think theologically. By examining their own beliefs and their relationship to our culture and the tradition of our Christian faith, participants can learn what it means to be effective ministers in the world. In coming to terms with the notion that everything we do has potential for manifesting the love of Christ, we discover that our ministry is at hand wherever we turn.
Sponsored by the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, St. Matthew's hosts a seminar group that meets in person at the church (or via Zoom) on Monday evenings from 7:00-9:30pm from mid-September through early June with Sharon Pearson as the trained EfM mentor. Sharon graduated from EfM in 1998 and has since led four different seminar groups over the course of twenty years: Christ & Holy Trinity, Westport; Grace Church, Norwalk; Trinity, Southport; and the Episcopal Church Center in NYC. Contact Sharon for more information.
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