The Episcopal Church in South Carolina
What is EfM?
EfM is a four-year theological education program offered "at a distance" by the School of Theology at the University of the South at Sewanee. Participants commit to one year at a time, and meet weekly in seminars led by a trained mentor. Over the four years, participants study the Bible, church history, and theology, while learning to engage in theological reflection. This provides a solid education in the foundations of our Christian faith.
The seminar group is the nucleus of the Education for Ministry program. A group consists of six to twelve participants and a trained mentor who meet weekly over the course of a nine-month academic year. These meetings are usually from 2.5-3 hours in length.
Mentor certification to form and facilitate an EfM group requires 18 contact hours of basic/inservice or formation training annually (minimally every 18 months) and approval by the trainer. EfM parishes in The Episcopal Church in South Carolina have training events scheduled August 1-3
at St. Christopher Conference Center. Dr. Walter Limehouse can provide registration information and describe the training content. EfM begins a newly revised curriculum this fall.
Through study, prayer, and reflection, EfM groups move toward a new understanding of the fullness of God's kingdom. This process can be illustrated by a two-rail fence. One rail is the Christian tradition. The other is the collective experience of the group's members. The rails are linked by fence posts which represent the seminar sessions where life and study meet. The fence is grounded in the soil of regular worship which is vital to the life of the group.
Participants are given weekly assignments to study with the help of resource guides. Students are responsible for setting their own learning goals. They spend between two and four hours in study and preparation each week. In the seminars members have an opportunity to share their insights and discoveries as well as to discuss questions which the study materials raise for them.
Through discussion and guided reflection, the seminars furnish an opportunity to deepen understanding of the reading materials.
More important is the development of skills in theological reflection. The goal is to learn to think theologically. By examining their own beliefs and their relationship to our culture and the tradition of our Christian faith, participants can learn what it means to be effective ministers in the world. In coming to terms with the notion that everything we do has potential for manifesting the love of Christ, we discover that our ministry is at hand wherever we turn.
The seminar is supported by a life of prayer and regular worship. EfM groups are encouraged to develop a pattern of worship appropriate to their situations. Liturgical materials are furnished with the course materials.
Find out more at the EfM website.