About EFM-Education for Ministry

EfM F.A.Q. 

Q1 –     What, exactly, is Education for Ministry?

A1 –     The quick answer is – Education for Ministry (EfM) is a four-year program developed by the School of Theology at the University of the South to provide lay persons with tools and resources that will encourage them to engage more fully with their baptismal journey in daily life.  Participants only need to commit to one year at a time. EfM was developed specifically for those of us who as lay members of the church want to understand our Christian journey as it relates to our daily lives. The “ministry” that this program focuses on is the ministry of all the baptized and helps participants grow more fully into their Baptismal Covenant.

In EfM, we are on a journey in community, where we learn, grow and loveLearning means we are engaging in continued spiritual/religious education – which can be enlightening, and transformative – and where we are able to ask our deepest questions.  Growing means being in community where we together experience relationship and service, and together explore living with intentionality as Christians.  Loving means we together discern where Jesus is calling each of us – and how we may seek and serve Christ in all persons, love our neighbors as ourselves, strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being. In addition, we expand this respect and love beyond our baptismal covenant towards all of God’s creation.

Q2 –     And what does this mean in practical terms – for example, what are the four years? And what else happens in each EfM meeting?

A2 –     During weekly gatherings of no more than 12 participants, trained mentors guide the process at the heart of the EfM program – Theological Reflection (TR).  Participants only commit to one year at a time. Each of the four years focuses on a different aspect of the Christian tradition:  Year One studies the Old Testament; Year Two studies the New Testament; Year Three studies the history of the Christian Church; and Year Four begins the study of Modern Theology (as a life skill).

Each meeting begins and ends with worship, members have a chance to catch up on what is happening in their lives, then each Year talks about their studies, and finally the whole group together usually engages in a TR – where we learn to take what we are learning, discuss it as a group, and apply it both to our spiritual lives, and to our lives more generally.  We are learning to “think theologically.”

Q3 –     How often does the EfM group meet, and for how does each meeting last?

A3 –     The academic year for EfM is 36 weekly meetings – generally starting at about the same time the school year begins for other students (August/September) and extending through the following spring/early summer.  Once enrollment has been finalized, the EfM’ group’s mentors will determine how to structure the year –the day of the week on which to meet, including weeks off.

Each meeting (in normal times) is about three hours long (for example, this year, the group [pre-COVID-19] met from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday evenings).  The group also agrees on the location of the meeting.  The EfM administration at University of the South School of Theology sends out the textbooks, including a Reading and Reflection Guide (“RRG”).  All students and mentors have the RRG which provides the framework for each meeting.  At the first meeting, the group mutually agrees on “group norms” that will govern how the group will interact over the course of the 36 weeks.

Q4 –     How do I enroll in EfM and what supplies do I need?

A4 –     The Diocese of Colorado provides institutional sponsorship for EfM groups in Colorado, and therefore participating in our EfM group has a discounted fee of $375 instead of the regular $475.  This fee includes the year’s required texts.  Students will need to provide their own Bible (generally EfM recommends acquiring a New Revised Standard Version [NRSV] Bible, if you do not already have one).

This summer (2020), we are celebrating the graduation of St. Andrew’s parish members Clyde Lovell and Shawn Nowlan from the four-year Education for Ministry (EfM) program jointly sponsored by St. Andrew’s Church and Church of the Holy Redeemer.

This joint EfM group includes members from four Episcopal parishes in Denver:  St. Andrew’s Church; Church of the Holy Redeemer; Church of the Ascension; and St. Luke’s Church.  (EfM is a distance learning theological education program of the School of Theology of the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee.)

Most years, members of our EfM group visit each of our participating parishes, where we join in worship on an “EfM Sunday.”  This is to honor our graduates, to spread the word about EfM, and to invite individuals (who are interested) to consider joining our EfM group.  This year, with COVID-19, and with our Bishop’s “Seasonal Approach to Regathering” still under way, we are finding other ways both to honor our graduates and to help individuals discern whether joining EfM may be valuable for each of them on their spiritual journey – like this newsletter article.

In EfM, we are on a four-year journey in community where we learn, grow and loveLearning means we are engaging in continued spiritual/religious education – which can be enlightening, and transformative – and where we are able to ask our deepest questions.  Growing means being in community where we together experience relationship and service, and together explore living with intentionality as Christians.  Loving means we together discern where Jesus is calling each of us – and how we may seek and serve Christ in all persons, love our neighbors as ourselves, strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being. In addition, we expand this respect and love beyond our baptismal covenant to all of God’s creation.

If you are at all curious about EfM, please contact Shawn Nowlan (303-250-2705; snowlan01@gmail.com), Pennie Goodman, (303-913-2208; ggoodman1041@gmail.com  or Jennifer Macy (303-320-1276; macyjennifer@gmail.com. Once we have your interest, we will keep a list of interested new students, and will send out the full registration information as soon as we know it ourselves.

For those interested and who have financial need, our EfM group (and parishes) work with those who have financial need, and both Scholarships and/or financial assistance may be available.

Each student only commits to one year at a time during this four-year journey.  If you would like more information about EfM, you can follow this link to an EfM F.A.Q. with more details, http://efm.sewanee.edu/about-efm/about-efm .

The School of Theology is creating an online portal for the Fall 2020 EfM enrollment (unlike prior years where the mentors handled enrollment and fees and sent them to the School of Theology).  Stay tuned for more details of the new process.

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Again, if you are at all curious about EfM, please contact Shawn Nowlan (303-250-2705; snowlan01@gmail.com), Pennie Goodman, (303-913-2208; ggoodman1041@gmail.com) or Jennifer Macy (303-320-1276; macyjennifer@gmail.com).  Once we have your interest, we will keep a list of interested new students, and will send out the full registration information as soon as we know it ourselves.

Finally, for those interested and who have financial need, our EfM group (and parishes) work with those who have financial need, and both Scholarships and/or financial assistance may be available.  Again, stay tuned for more details.