Education For Ministry

by admin on September 8, 2010

in Episcopal

This week, after three years in the program, I started my last year of Education for Ministry, (EFM). What is EFM?

Some people have called it the Episcopal Church’s version of Bible Study Fellowship (BSF), which, from what I understand, is largely a product of the Baptist Church.

But even that is not an effective description of EFM.

In recent years the Episcopal Church has put an increasing amount of emphasis on lay ministry; meaning that the Church is seeking to encourage everyone, not just priests and deacons to be a part of reaching out to the community and the world with the love of Christ.

In order to help prepare its parishioners for greater involvement in ministry and missions, the School of Theology at the University of the South, in Sewanee, TN, has introduced the adult theology class called Education for Ministry.

It’s a four- year program that (I’ve been told) actually mirrors the training received by deacons, only on a level that’s less intensive, and makes allowance for the professional adult who already has a life and career.

The class meets once a week, and covers both the Old and New Testaments, the early Church fathers, the Medieval Church, the Reformation, and the modern Anglican and Episcopal Church.

The scope and sequence gives the student a wonderful sense of the direction and flow of Church History, as well as makes him or her familiar with the significant characters involved, and the doctrines they used to shape Christianity.

But this is only the raw academic aspect of the program. The devotional aspect, called the Theological Reflection, (TR) helps the participant to take in the history and literature he or she is studying, and actually apply it their life and faith.

During the TR the class will either read a passage of Scripture, or hear a classmate describe a real life incident involving a moral dilemma.

A class mentor then guides the students through a discussion of the moral question, while analyzing its cultural, traditional and religious ramifications.

It should be stressed that this is not a therapy or counseling session, although a tremendous amount of growth can and should occur.

Some things are still best left to one’s priest. That being said, I expect most groups develop genuine relationships, in which attendees are comfortable requesting the prayer and support of other members.

This has definitely been true of the group of which I’m a part.

I should also mention that EFM is not limited exclusively to Episcopalians. In fact, my class has had at least one Methodist over the years.

While the class does not offer college credit, it does offer eighteen Continuing Education Credits for every completed year of EFM.

When my final year is over, I have no idea what I’ll do with my Tuesday nights!

To read more on the program go to http://www.sewanee.edu/EFM/EFMCredits.htm.

For more on how to join an EFM class in Tyler go to http://www.christchurchtyler.org/efm.htm.

To read my original article on Christ Church in Tyler, simply click on the following link, http://www.tylertxdirectory.com/9/christ-episcopal-church/.

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