Training people with ordinary lives to think in extra-ordinary ways, telling our stories, knowing our roots, facing our future…
Education for Ministry combines the traditional functions of fellowship group and Bible study with a method of theological reflection designed to tap into our creative, metaphorical and mythical ways of thinking, to help us make conscious connections between our faith traditions and the “post-religious” world we find ourselves in today.
A group of six to twelve participants, led by a trained mentor, meet weekly for 36 three-hour meetings in the course of a year. The course is a four-year program but participants commit to one year at a time.
- Small Seminar groups of from 6 to 12 students
- Trained mentor(s) and thought-provoking texts
- Theological reflection practiced regularly
- Prayer and worship in a Community of study
The topics covered over the four years include the Old Testament, the New Testament, Church History and Theological and Moral Choices.
The goal is to sign up by July 31 for the fall semester since it takes about a month to get your textbooks. We start after Labor Day at a mutually agreeable time and location. EfM costs $340 per person per year. Congregations interested in starting groups, or individuals interested in more information or locating groups in their area should contact the coordinator or one of the mentors. For more information about EFM or to enroll in a program, please contact diocesan coordinator Hawley Todd at firstname.lastname@example.org.
History of EfM
Education for Ministry is a program of theological education for lay people offered by extension from the School of Theology of the University of the South, Sewanee, Tenn. EfM originated in the mid-1970s as an extension course, based on the seminary curriculum, for lay people who needed further theological training but did not feel called to the ordained ministry.
The basic belief of the program is that by our baptismal vows all Christians are called to be ministers in and through the church. The program developers believed that lay people in the church needed more training and education than was generally available in order to carry out their ministries.
What began as a small experimental course has now become a world-wide network with over 9,000 graduates and 7,500 students enrolled. The program is offered in the local congregation, led by a mentor (lay or clergy) who is trained by the School of Theology to facilitate the seminar group. Meeting weekly for nine months of the year, over a four-year period, the student experiences readings in Scripture, Church History, and Contemporary Issues. In addition to the readings, the focus of the seminar session itself is learning and practicing various techniques of Theological Reflection whereby the student learns to experience the presence of God in his/her own life experiences, and to “own” the Scripture and Tradition in new ways by holding up the experiences of their lives against the backdrop of the Christian Tradition.
By working together on the lessons, theological reflection and regular prayer, the seminar group becomes a small Christian community which supports and encourages its members in their ministries. It becomes a safe and loving place to explore beliefs and to try out new ministries. There are no tests or papers to write, so there are no college credits offered, but the student does receive 18 Continuing Education Units per year completed. EfM has been offered in southern Ohio since the 1970s.