Education for Ministry (EfM) is a unique four-year distance learning certificate program in theological education based upon small-group study and practice. The program was developed by, and is offered through, the School of Theology, University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee.
EfM helps the faithful 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. Since its founding in 1975, this international program has assisted more than 80,000 participants in discovering and nurturing their call to Christian service.
Every baptized person is called to ministry. EfM provides people with the education to carry out that ministry. 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.
EfM provides college level study spread over four years. The first-year participants study the Hebrew scriptures, to include how, when, where and why those books were written, edited and preserved. Second-year students focus on very similar questions concerning Jesus and the canonical books of the New Testament. Third-year students read and consider Christian history and tradition over the last 3,000 years. Fourth-year students engage the world of theology and ethics.
While the study of canonical Christian scriptures, Church history and tradition and theology is challenging, by far the most dynamic part of EfM is the development for each participant in the skill of Theological Reflection (TR). With almost forty years of experience, EfM, through the systems developed in the program and through Sewanee’s School of Theology, has provided a powerful tool for individual insight.