Education for Ministry has been a part of the Diocese of Northwest Texas for many years, and continues to be a source of education, theology, and individual development for numerous persons in the diocese. Some graduates have continued onto ordination paths, but many more find their ministry developed for service within their churches and communities. Although usually associated with the Episcopal Church, groups consist of members from all denominations and walks of life, and this diversity adds to the unique character of the groups.
The EfM website states, "Education for Ministry (EfM) is a unique four-year distance learning certificate program in theological education based upon small-group study and practice. Since its founding in 1975, this international program has assisted more than 80,000 participants in discovering and nurturing their call to Christian service. 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."
As stated in her book, We Are Theologians, Fredrica Harris Thompsett stated, "Education for Ministry is exploring about God in conversation with others. The value of that education increases as we allow ourselves to become part of that conversation. Honed by storytelling, humor, and the joys of working in a community, participants can discover and claim their own individual theological voice. More than a few transforming moments occur as participants will, are surprised by, and eventually claim the reality that they are theologians, a people with theological commitments, preferences, questions, and liberating insights about God. The studies reveal glimpses of courage and leadership since time immemorial called forth from ordinary people by an extraordinary God. It is liberating to study and realize that the Bible is not a legal reference book of "right" answers to given questions, nor is it a weapon that entitles us to condemn others. Education for Ministry invites all the people of God, particularly laity, to heed, study, and follow the call of God. An Education for Ministry four years of studies give participants, as Thornton Wilder says, 'voices to guide us, and the memory of our mistakes to warn us.' "
In Northwest Texas, we are privileged to have a dedicated EfM Diocesan Coordinator to lead our programs. Richard Partney, from St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Amarillo, a former educator and administrator, speaks very enthousiatically about EfM. In an recent interview he stated, "I have a zeal to recruit, not just Episcopalians, for serious participants of this thoroughly enjoyable community of learners who do not check their brains at the door of the seminar, but are willing to share their "ah-ha" moments, and are willing to honor their neighbor's faith.
There are currently 58 participants in the Diocese of Northwest Texas, with EfM communities in Abilene, Amarillo, Big Spring, Lubbock, and Midland. By January of 2017, Richard will also lead an online EfM course of study for participants in this area.
If you would like more information about EfM in Northwest Texas, or would like to enroll in a class, please contact Richard at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also visit the EfM website by following this link, or by clicking on the group photo above. Additionally, three informational forms are available for download by clicking the links above the page title.
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