In the Spotlight:
EfM=Education for Ministry
"Consider EfM. It will stimulate your mind, expand your heart and open the doors to ministering to the world right in front of you." by Kate Brigham, Vestry Member
Let’s just admit it. Within the spectrum of Christian denominations, we Episcopalians are the NERDS of the Christians. There’s nothing wrong with that because we love theology! It’s fascinating, inspiring, it challenges us and we get to learn about so much especially in classes like EfM: Education for Ministry.
For several years in the past, I had wished there was something like a combination of an easy-going seminary, a Bible study group, an adult formation class and a book club. When I heard an announcement one Sunday after worship about EfM, I knew I had found it. You can check out the official website, but as someone who is finishing up my 3rd year, allow me to give you the inside scoop.
EfM is a 4 year program that meets once a week for 2-3 hours from September to May. Groups are between 6-12 people and are led by mentors. Each year has a designated reading focus but all students participate in one class:
Year 1: The Hebrew Bible
Year 2: The New Testament
Year 3: Church History
Year 4: Theology, Ethic and Interfaith Encounter
Participants follow their weekly reading assignments categorized by year and then meet in class for theological discussions, questioning, exploration and discovery. EfM is so much more than just theology though. In the second half of the class period, as a group we reflect on a particular focal topic; we explore the meanings in relation to culture, tradition and personal beliefs and experiences. We talk about the various applications on how we, individually and corporately (the Body of Christ), can ultimately go forward as ministers into the world.
Like no two snowflakes that are identical, the same is true with people. Each student coming from different backgrounds, life experiences, knowledge about subjects and possibilities, brings with them unique insights and thoughts that are shared. This broad range of perspectives is one of the things that makes EfM so special. Every student is encouraged and given the opportunity to share their thoughts, feelings and opinions. This wonderful component of EfM allows us the chance to hear something that is new; something that we’ve never heard or thought of before and it is the result of the safe environment that is intentionally created and maintaned. The group’s established mutual respect and trust are some of the main keys to the success of EfM along with the dedication of our mentors.
EfM would not be possible without our faithful and incredibly diligent mentors. Sometimes when life gets busy, I grumble about having to do my weekly reading homework but then I remember that I only need to read my single Year 3 assignment. Our mentors, aka “the Brainiacs”, cover all 4 Years of reading material each week in order to prepare leading the class. The marvelous EfM guru, Joanne Clark, retired after 14 years of mentorship and has been succeeded by co-mentors Kristi Champagne and Bruce Smith in this year’s morning class andDoug Dickenson and Tamara Belts in our evening class. Their service to this ministry is instrumental and they are invaluable.
Bruce Smith, bringing his deep-rooted knowledge about the Bible, excellent facilitating experience and a fun loving nature, shares his personal statement about EfM;...
“EFM has helped me to see the spiritual side of facets of my life that I’d never considered before. What I most value is the chance to study serious things and then spend time with the most intelligent, agreeable people I’ve ever met discussing it and have a lot of fun in the process.”
Kristi Champagne thoughtfully shares,
"I am a cradle Episcopalian and have always been a faithful worshipper but since EfM I am a more thoughtful and reflective worshipper. I now have context in different ways for that which we say together or read or listen to during a service. Even my appreciation of the music we sing, always my focus, has changed because I can put those composers in an historical context along with the rest of church history. Our weekly lectionary has more meaning because I now know what came before that selection and what comes after it and if I don’t I will go look it up! Probably the most valuable aspect of EfM is the opportunity to reflect with a group of committed Christians each week about what we read and what we experience, big or small, from a Christian perspective. Our discussions are open, honest, thoughtful, respectful and sometimes hilarious.”
I still have one more year of EfM and what can I tell you about it so far? I find myself viewing things from a new perspective and even when I listen to a sermon, it is somehow altered now. The way I look at life in general is different because I am different. In this complex world with conflicting messages from culture and tradition, it can be hard to know what it means to be active ministers of Jesus as lay people. EfM helps people with a foundation in theological education; to continue to re-examine their beliefs, to grow spiritually and think about how we can live our faith in everyday events. For all nerds and nerd wannabees, consider EfM. It will stimulate your mind, expand your heart and open the doors to ministering to the world right in front of you.
Registration is open for the Month of May. Email Kristi Champagne