Education for Ministry (EfM) from the School of Theology of the University of the South in Sewanee TN celebrated its 40th anniversary July 29 at General Convention. One of the most successful and long lasting educational programs, EfM has had more than 81,000 participants with nearly 38,000 graduates of all 4 years. With its goal of a theologically educated laity, EfM can be found from Canada to the U.K. and western Europe, from Australia and New Zealand to Hong Kong, and from Africa to the Bahamas with local leadership and development. Recent addition EfM Online has 35 groups (6-10 persons) with participants from around the world joining those in the U.S. making for rich theological reflection and study.
Press Release from EfM (updated):
Education for Ministry (EfM) was founded as a distance-learning program of the School of Theology in 1970 by School of Theology professor Charles Winter whose vision was to provide theological education for the laity. He hoped to attract as many as 2,000 participants.
That program, Theological Education by Extension, became Education for Ministry and since that time, more than 81,000 persons have participated. As of last month, nearly 38,000 have completed all four years and received their certificates.
On June 29, 175 graduates, participants, and friends of EfM, gathered in Salt Lake City to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the program, now the key education and formation program of the School’s Beecken Center and the longest running program in adult Christian formation in The Episcopal Church. Attendees came from across the U.S., from the east coast to Hawaii, including one graduate from Hong Kong.
After welcoming the attendees to the celebration, the Rt. Rev. J. Neil Alexander, dean of the School of Theology, shared Sewanee’s commitment that “theological education is not just for those who will be ordained, and not just for those who will serve the church in lay vocations professionally, but that it is the birthright of all baptized people.”
Karen Meridith, executive director of EfM, spoke to the gathering and shared some of the history of the program as well as the plans for the future. “We are celebrating EfM’s various editions over the years, including the new curriculum being rolled out now, and our ongoing commitment to meet the needs of new generations of learners, whether in traditional face-to-face local groups or online.” She went on to recognize that EfM has become firmly rooted around the world, from Canada to the U.K. and western Europe, from Australia and New Zealand to Hong Kong, and from Africa to the Bahamas. Meredith concluded, “And tonight we are celebrating you—participants, mentors, diocesan coordinators, trainers, graduates, friends of the program. Thank you for your support. And thank you for putting what you’ve learned into action as ministers in daily life.”
University of the South’s Vice-Chancellor John M. McCardell Jr. closed the evening’s program. He began by thanking Meridith for her leadership during the past five years and thanked the attendees for their participation in the program and their subsequent important contributions to the church.
McCardell expressed his gratitude for Education for Ministry and added, “We don’t take this program for granted and in fact, we have incorporated this relationship into our plans for the future.” He shared the recent decision by the board of regents of the University of the South to move the School of Theology back to the center of campus. The move will include a new building and spaces for EfM to train mentors and trainers, as well as administer the program. He invited the attendees to visit the University’s booth to see the conceptual renderings of the new plans.
He concluded, “The School of Theology has played, for many, many years, a critically important role in preparing the next generation of leadership for the church. And now more than ever, our church is in need of more than just sound-bite theology. EfM is the best antidote for that among the laity.”
Full disclosure- this editor is a mentor of 2 online groups and has served as a Trainer with EfM.
Posted by Ann Fontaine