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[The Episcopal News] Education for Ministry (EfM) a four-year program of course in scripture, theology and church history sponsored by the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, will be offered in about 20 congregations around the diocese, according to Gary Leonard, diocesan coordinator.

EfM is taught in small-group settings, usually from September to May. In addition to academic studies, students explore their personal beliefs and effective practice of their faith.

“During these uncertain times with COVID-19 disrupting our lives and the struggle to end racial inequality,” Leonard wrote in a course invitation, “you may have been looking for new ways to deepen your faith or for a way to challenge old ways of thinking so that you can start putting your faith into action in challenging new and dramatic ways.”

During a recent graduation service for EfM graduates, Bishop John Harvey Taylor remarked that the program helps “to address the disconnect in basic biblical understanding between those who preach and those who hear.” Making that connection, he added, is vital to forming effecting lay leaders in the church.

Each EfM session includes prayer, worship, theological reflection and discussions on the book readings. Through the course of the four years EfM works from a common lesson book that will cover the following themes:

Year A: Living faithfully in your world
Year B: Living faithfully in a multicultural world
Year C: Living as a spiritually mature Christian
Year D: Living into the journey with God

“EfM uses a wide variety of sources to challenge you and to deepen your faith,” says Leonard. “If you are a past graduate of EfM, this is an entirely new program compared to what you experienced in the past. Graduates of EfM are invited to enroll in any year they wish to take.”

To learn more about EfM, visit the Sewanee website here.  For more information about local EfM sessions, contact Leonard at efmladiocese@gmail.com. Registration deadline for the coming academic year is Aug. 31; some groups fill up fast.