Education for Ministry (EfM)
Education for Ministry is a continuing education program out of the University of the South Sewanee’s Beecken Center.
What is Education for Ministry?
EDUCATION is the first aspect of the program. Each week we explore aspects of the Judeo-Christian faith. We read the Bible, biblical scholarship, church history and explore ethics and theology. The education part of the program is designed to help participants think for themselves about what they read through discussion with other seekers.
EfM has no teachers; instead groups are led by Mentors. Mentors are fellow travelers on the journey toward better understanding our individual and unique relationship with God. Mentors help participants each week through discussion of study materials, strengthening fellowship among the group, creatively worshipping God with each other, and reflecting theologically on our lives with purpose and intention. Seminar groups have 8-10 people, including mentors.
MINISTRY is the second aspect of this program. And no, we are not trying to recruit more laypeople into Seminary. What EfM means by ministry is finding what Frederick Buechner describes as the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s great hunger. What lights the spark of divinity within you and allows you to lead a more fulfilling life? That is the ministry that is unique to each of us. EfM’s methodology helps us develop our calling, sometimes without a conscious effort on our part.
Each September when our EfM year begins, we begin anew. Our group will consist of some who are returning for a new year of study, some who are brand new to the group, and at least two members (co-mentors Beth and Sandy) who provide continuity. Everyone begins by studying Hebrew Scriptures or the Old Testament. Returning members might have a focus on the New Testament, or church history or modern ethics, theology and multi-cultural engagement. The multi-faceted approach to the Education part of the program keeps us aimed at the Ministry part of the program.
Why Start the EfM Journey?
There are so many reasons to begin an EfM journey. Beth began hers because she had two toddlers at home and was desperate for adult conversation that was about something other than preschool, dirty diapers, and what should be for dinner. She had no idea where the journey would lead. Sandy began her journey because her children were in high school and college and she felt as if she finally had the time to explore her own spirituality. Others have joined to study the Bible, create trusted fellowship, and infuse spiritual insights into their daily lives. Whatever the reason, all are welcome at the EfM table.
What Past Participants Have Said About EfM:
- The most astonishing thing about having EFM as part of my life is the experience of watching people discover what God really is calling them to do. Truly, it never ceases to amaze me -- or them! God is indeed "doing a new thing" in our private lives, and it plays out in lovely public ways.
- EfM has given me the language to better understand my personal theology and what to do with that belief in my daily life. I look forward to every meeting because I know that God will be present in our discussions. The people who are my classmates are so much more than that--they are fellow souls on a faith journey who hold my hand, redirect my steps, and celebrate my milestones. EfM is a truly remarkable program.
- EfM was a great way to read scripture with new insight. Reading the Bible with commentary certainly helped deepen my understanding. EfM helped me learn and interpret the Bible in ways that no prior study had.
- I had read the Bible numerous times before, but I never really digested the Bible till I read it in EfM. That new understanding has had a huge impact on my life.
Who Leads the St. Michael’s EfM Group?
Beth Cavey is a member of St. Michael’s and has been part of the EfM world for over 10 years. Beth began EfM without a clear understanding of what she was getting into, but within a month realized how special this program is. She began co-mentoring a group at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Arlington in her 4th year. In 2020, the group moved to St. Michael’s and Beth is now joined by Sandy to lead the group. Beth has been involved in the racial reconciliation work at St. Michael’s and leads a spiritual women’s group with the help of Rev. Franklin. Beth is married to Brian and they have two kids: Tina and Michael, two dogs: Harper and Angus, and two chickens: Patsy and Demeter. The Cavey family is looking forward to being able to welcome people to their farm outside of Warrenton when it is safe to have people visit again.
Sandy Padgett began EfM at All Saints Church in Pasadena, California. She moved with her husband to Arlington in 2017 and joined the St. John’s group. She graduated in 2019 and began co-mentoring with Beth in 2020. Sandy is a cradle Episcopalian who has served in various church roles ranging from stewardship to youth mission trips to gun violence prevention work. She is currently a member of St Mark’s Capitol Hill where she sings in the Chancel Choir and is a Lay Delegate to the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, DC. She participates in a contemplative prayer group and is a member of the St Mark’s Guild for Transformational Journeys. Sandy and her husband Chris have four young adult sons and a Golden Retriever.
The St. Michael’s group currently meets on Tuesday mornings from 9:45-12 via Zoom until it is safe to be in person again.
The cost for each September-June year is $375 – this includes seminar meetings and all text books. EfM and St. Michael’s have scholarship opportunities, so don’t let cost be a deterrent.
Each year of study earns participants 18 Continuing Education Credits.
To dive into or to get more information about EfM, contact Beth Cavey at [email protected]