Education for Ministry, A Personal Testimonial

by admin on May 9, 2013

in Churches, Episcopal

efmSeveral years ago I wrote an article about Education for Ministry (EFM) for this directory. EFM is a church history and theology class whose aim is to equip lay people in the Episcopal Church with a greater understanding of their faith and tradition, so that they are better able to share those important aspects of their lives with others. But that description is a very shallow one, and hardly an adequate way of conveying the deeper EFM experience. I was reminded of the class’s significance in my life, earlier this week, when I attended the retirement party of my former EFM mentor.

Almost five years ago I made, what at the time seemed like the most drastic and possibly the most irresponsible decision of my life. I was teaching at a small area private school, taking a couple on- line classes, occasionally working a couple semi- regular jobs on the side, and of course participating in EFM. It was at this point in my mildly busy life that I chose to adopt my son, who was at the time eight months old. As one can imagine the first few months of parenthood seemed dramatic, especially given the circumstances which necessitated my son’s adoption. There were midnight crying sessions, early morning drives, and occasional instances of tardiness at work. A lot of things fell by the wayside… a lot. One of the things that didn’t (at least not entirely) was Education for Ministry. The weekly class was my three hours of adult conversation, intellectual stimulation and spiritual refocusing.

But EFM was even more for me. When the first semester started I was relatively new at my church. I knew very few people and my involvement was largely confined to weekly Eucharist. EFM dragged me into the church more fully and made me an active participant. In short, it gave me community. And when my son came along, my class became a quite unexpected source of support. My classmates helped with meals, baby sitters, hand me down clothing, Christmas gifts, and even much needed advice for a single dad who was clearly in over his head. My son became a very in a very real sense, part of the class.

My graduation was about three years ago now, (which hardly seems possible). But the relationships that formed over the four years I spent in the class remain. And while this testimonial is more a recounting of my personal experience than an academic discussion of the benefits and opportunities presented in the curriculum. As such it is probably more suited to a blog post. But here’s the point; at the end of the day this is what church, faith and life in general are all about: community and relationship, both with Christ and our fellow man. Education for Ministry is an experience which provides, at the very least a stepping stone for those seeking all of these things, and for those seeking to help others find them too.

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