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By Joseph Bruglio
“Education for Ministry” or EfM is a 9-month study of scripture and theology created by an Episcopal seminary to offer lay people a deeper dive into the bible and the life-long practice of theological reflection. EfM begins the last week of September. More info and sign-up here.
A brief telling of my experience with “Education for Ministry” (EfM): I was at a point in my life where I finally had committed to weekly worship, I was volunteering as an acolyte, and a part of the stewardship committee. (Not bad, for someone who had been absent from church life for years and even called himself agnostic at one point!)
And while I enjoyed being involved in church, I wanted to take the next step in exploring my faith. My good friend Mark Patzman, who shared a small-group activity with me titled “Spiritual Biography,” thought I might be interested in EfM. Call it serendipitous or a blessing in disguise; it was just what I needed.
Beginning with the Old Testament and all of the reading involved, I was a bit overwhelmed at the start. I even briefly considered dropping out, but something inside me said, “Absolutely not, I have something to say too.” As it turned out, most of the people (maybe all of them) really enjoyed my input, specifically the facilitator and her husband, who ran the group. I found the Theological Reflection – the exercise where we ask, “What does this piece of scripture say to me through the lens of history, tradition, culture, and personal experience?” – very helpful. There is also a check-in at the beginning of each class which is very important to the journey and process, especially when trying to understand Christ in the world and how he touches each of our lives.
After completing the first two years (Old Testament and New Testament), I can say without question that this class changed my life. I now have a much better understanding of scripture in addition to the process, inspiration, and spirit of each book that compiles what we know as The Bible. I found it also helped in having healthier discussions outside of my church family, that sometimes can feel a little like an echo chamber. I think EfM has helped me to have a better relationship with the Bible, as so often it has been something used to condemn or to inflict shame and fear. It is a wonderful experience, and you won’t always agree with everyone but stick with it. Trust me; you won’t regret it.