“Taste and See!” – My Experience with EfM

By Marla Carew

“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.

While I had joined Christ Church Cranbrook a number of years ago, I had also lost some time, spinning mental and theological wheels, questioning and doubting, and perhaps being intimidated by how much I wanted a life of faith in community and how big that “ask” seemed in the secular 21st century. By 2022, this process of discernment (or wandering in the Zoom pandemic desert) had gotten old, and I knew that I felt powerfully at home, as I have nowhere else, at Christ Church Cranbrook. I was even overcoming initial anxieties about wearing the Eucharistic Minister robe well enough, and fulfilling that duty seriously, reverently, and lovingly, but loosely enough to roll with the challenges of handling a chalice of wine in real-time.  

I loved the church, increasing involvement in it, and Thomas Cranmer’s poetry and architecture of the Book of Common Prayer – but was I at home in the Bible? Not entirely, and the Old Testament especially felt like a strange land.

Research into adult intensive study quickly made me aware of Education for Ministry, the 4-year Episcopalian intensive lay study program created by The University of the South (“Sewanee”), and the fact that many online EFM groups had survived the pandemic, but there was no group at CCC. Father Chris shared his significant EFM knowledge and experience and I dove in – and was back to questioning and doubting, and wondering both how strange the Hebrew Bible seemed (ancient history, different culture, different land) and also how universal it seemed (people were imperfect, families could be troubled, smart leaders could go wrong, women and other tribes were not always recipients of ideal treatment).   

This sometimes difficult study could have been a “nope” moment (it surely is for some), but what I see as the power and glory of EFM – working through the text and questions together, wrestling together – made it into a transformational experience. It was the weeks and months of laughing, grinding teeth, and finding parallels between stories and our lives (and Christianity), that turned sometimes heavy or controversial reading into faith deepened in a community of trusting and close fellow travelers. When Father Chris gave a sermon that talked about “faith” not as what we believe after the application of the scientific method, but as what we “set our hearts upon,” I felt he was speaking to EFM in specific. We had tasted and seen, and we had gained clarity about what we set our hearts upon.

So if you are interested in EfM, I would strongly recommend that you stop by the EFM table at Coffee Hour or reach out to me (mjscarew@gmail.com) or Fr. Chris (charris@christchurchcranbrook.org) – we’d be happy to tell you more and answer your questions. Don’t let the amount of reading (more in Year 1 with the Hebrew Bible) or weekly meetings dissuade you if you are curious. Investigate. Taste and see!

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