Education for Ministry - Our Call to Minister in the World
Lay persons face the difficult and often subtle task of interpreting the richness of the church's faith in a complex and confusing world. They need a theological education which supports their faith and also teaches them to express that faith in day-to-day events. As the emphasis on lay ministry has grown, EfM has come to play an important role by providing a program that develops an informed and knowledgeable laity.
The EfM program is preparation for the ministry to which we all are called. It is that vocation for which we pray at the end of the Eucharist: "And now, Father, send us out to do the work you have given us to do, to love and serve you as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord.``
The seminar group is the nucleus of the Education for Ministry program, a theological extension program of the University of the South Theological Seminary in Sewanee, TN. The 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 take place at Christ Church on Tuesday mornings from 9:00 to 11:45 a.m.
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 have weekly readings to study with the help of resource guides. Students are responsible for setting their own learning goals. 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.
The most important aspect of the EfM program 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.