Education for Ministry (EfM) is a unique four-year distance learning certificate program in theological education based upon small-group study and practice. EfM is designed to prepare lay persons to live out by word and deed the promises made at baptism: to love God, to serve Christ, and to proclaim the Gospel. It is administered by The School of Theology Programs Center of the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee.
“If you want a sustained experience of spiritual and educational formation, EfM is the program for you. It is worth every moment of your time!”
-Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves
Since its founding in 1975, this international program has assisted more than 80,000 participants in discovering and nurturing their call to Christian service. EfM helps the faithful encounter the breadth and depth of Christian tradition and bring it into conversation with their experiences of the world as they study, worship, and engage in theological reflection.
How Does EfM Work?
EfM is a program of lay theological education that includes both individual and group work in seminars under the guidance of a trained mentor. It is not “Bible study” . . . although the Bible is a key part of the program. EfM enables baptized Christians to relate their faith to their lives and ministries around the world.
The heart of the program is a method of theological reflection that “breaks open” scripture by using a four-source model of Action, Tradition, Culture and Position. The class also features lessons in the Old Testament, the New Testament, church history, theology and ethics. It is a class that equips people for the ministry of the church and requires a commitment to the work and to Christ’s ministry.
-EfM groups typically consist of 6-12 people with one or two mentors.
-Groups normally meet once a week for 36 weeks, spread over an academic year of about nine months.
-Meetings involve worship, discussion of the texts assigned for that week and either a common lesson or theological reflection.
-EfM is offered in four one-year segments. You only sign up for one year at a time!
A list of existing groups is maintained by our Diocesan Coordinator, Katy Dickinson. Anyone can join an existing group. EfM is designed so that students at different levels of study meet together. Students in all years share common lessons and theological reflections. Groups typically include members from multiple congregations. New students are encouraged to talk with the many EfM alumni in the Diocese of El Camino Real about their experiences.
Cost of the program is currently $375 per year for members of the Diocese of El Camino Real. Some parishes may offer scholarships or subsidies.
For more information contact Katy Dickinson, EfM Coordinator for El Camino Real, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
EfM in Jail
Since 2015, the Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy (CIC), St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real, and the School of Theology – Education for Ministry program have been working together sponsoring a jail-based EfM seminar — a college-level theological education program with inmates as students. Two articles have been published about the Elmwood Jail program:
- “Inmates Explore Faith, Life Through Education for Ministry” by Kevin Cummings, Spring 2017 From the Mountain
- “Education for Ministry at Elmwood Jail”, CIC Ministries Newsletter, April 4, 2017