No, I'm not going to seminary. I'm getting ready to start Education for Ministry.
And, what's the difference?
The difference is that all of us are called to ministry. Some are called to ordained ministries; in my tradition, these are deacon, priest, and bishop. But every single layperson is also called to ministry, whether it's teaching Sunday school, serving at the altar, or (outside the church walls) living as a Christian in a way that causes others to seek us out because they see the light of Christ in us. Talking to a lonely person in the grocery store checkout line. Volunteering in our communities. Being on the board of RevGalBlogPals.
I firmly believe that everything we do is ministry to some degree, and that the degree largely counts on the intention we put into it. For many years I've worked in university administration, which doesn't sound like ministry, except that the care and concern I bring to the people I work with and serve makes it so. It's the way I make a difference in the world.
"The Education for Ministry program was designed in 1975 by the University of the South, Sewannee, to equip laypersons for their ministries in the church and the world." So, there, that sounds just right! Here is more detail on the study undertaken. And here's an article in my parish blog with some videos.
EFM is a four-year program, to which we commit one year at a time. Groups of six to twelve participants prepare in advance through reading and prayer and meet weekly to share prayer, study and theological reflection. I have wanted to do this for many years, but it has not been offered in a place where I lived until now.
The mentor for our group will be the initmitable Rev. Judy Upham, a RevGal, and I'm delighted about that. I've been hungry for an opportunity to study and reflect with a committed group. We are set to start on September 25. Please keep me and my group in your prayers as we start the journey.