The School of Theology. Sewanee: The University of the South

Education for Ministry

With the recent renewal of focus on lay theological education, Education for Ministry (EfM) is more than ever a significant part of The School of Theology’s mission to educate and cultivate lay leadership for the Church. EfM is a unique certificate program of experiential theological education for laity under the direction of The School of Theology. Since its founding in 1975, this international program has assisted more than 30,000 students in discovering how to respond to the call of Christian service. EfM helps students encounter the breadth and depth of the Christian tradition and bring it into conversation with their experiences of the world as they study, worship, and engage in theological reflection together.

An EfM group of six to 12 students with a trained mentor meet weekly for two and a half to three hours over the course of a nine-month academic year. Some groups meet in traditional face-to-face small groups in a local parish, others meet entirely online and may include participants in many different places. The program takes four years to complete and is broken up into these courses of study:
• Year One: The Hebrew Bible
• Year Two: The New Testament
• Year Three: Church History
• Year Four: Theology, Ethics, Interfaith Encounter

An EfM group is defined by its harmony of purpose. It is not simply a Bible study group, nor a religious study course, but a small community of praxis focused on study, worship, and intentional theological reflection. There is a balance among these components for none is complete without the other two. The work of reflection is informed by knowledge of the breadth of the Christian tradition and formed by the practice of regular worship together. The study of Christian tradition is deepened through prayerful presence with one another and reflection on the experience of Christians across the centuries as well as across the table. Regular worship together draws from ongoing reflection on the lived life of faith and an understanding of how Christian worship has been and is shaped by culture and context.

Karen Meridith, director of EfM, describes the program this way, "EfM graduates become persons of faith who have internalized a way of looking at the world through a theologically informed lens, who can articulate the call to ministry as baptized members of the Body of Christ, and who are prepared to work humbly with others with different experiences and perspectives. I believe these are just the kind of lay leaders the Church needs as we move forward in mission together."

Students at The School of Theology, along with many of the spouses, attend an EfM Immersion Workshop to acquaint them with this premier educational program for the laity of the Church.

Visit the EfM website for complete details.

An overview of EfM's strategic plan for the future may be found here.

Questions? Interested in learning more about EfM? Fill out this online form and someone will be in touch!