Feature Article from The Cyrenian parish newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 1
"Education for Ministry" at Saint Simon's Church
By Jean Marie Angelo, Clerk of Grace Church, White Plains
Several years ago I found myself being called to deepen my understanding of scripture and worship. I was hungry for studies that would challenge me, but that would fit into my every-day life.
Like many working adults, I knew I couldn’t enroll full time in a seminary program and leave work and family responsibilities. It was then I learned about Education for Ministry. There is a saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” This was true for me.
Our interim priest, Mother Jane Butterfield, wife of Father Titus Presler, began to spread the word at Grace Episcopal Church, White Plains, that the deacon at St. Simon the Cyrenian, was mentoring a group of parishioners in a course of study called Education for Ministry. EFM, as I learned, is a four-year distance learning certificate program offered through Sewanee, The University of South- www.sewanee.edu/EFM/ Our two parish communities were introduced to each other in 2009. We’ve been studying as a group since 2010. There are continuing education credits available for EFM.
After attending an orientation, I knew this was exactly what I was looking for.
The local EFM group meets weekly at St. Simon’s during the school year, and is attended by eight of us who are members of various Episcopal churches in the tri-state area. Some attendees are lay leaders who
want to further their commitment to their faith; others of us aspire to become ordained deacons in the Episcopal Church.
EFM was started in 1975 and has grown in participation. The first year focuses on the Old Testament; the second year the New Testament. Year three covers church history and the fourth year reviews theology.
Weekly assignments encompass scripture, interpretation, and even historical and archeological observations. Some ambitious classmates bring other research materials and Biblical maps to help with our understanding. A Parallel Guide gives a summary of each lesson and prepares us for weekly discussions and theological reflection. Some lessons involve writing of our “spiritual biographies,” and telling personal stories that help us reflect on the spiritual lessons of our lives and of scripture.
Group members take turns leading the group in opening and closing prayers each week. Personally, I love this part the most. Praying together, while often tying in the scripture we have studied, has served to deepen my bond of friendship with my classmates. We are all supporting each other down an important and sacred path. Does it sound as if EFM might be right for you? Please contact Deacon Paulette Remppel and join us in Christ.