Education for Ministry at Saint James’

What is EfM?

Every baptized person is called to ministry, and the four year Education for Ministry (EfM) program is preparation for that ministry. Lay persons face the difficult and often subtle task of interpreting the richness of the church’s faith in a complex and confusing world. We benefit from a theological education that supports our faith and also teaches us to express it in our day-to-day lives. With the knowledge and skills developed during EfM, we are better equipped to live out the vocation for which we pray at the end of the Eucharist: “And now, Father, send us out to do the work you have given us to do, to love and serve you as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord.”

How is EfM structured at Saint James’

A seminar group of 8 people is presently completing Year One of the EfM program, and we meet Wednesdays, from 9:00-11:30 a.m. We will finish in mid-June, and then in September we will have 4 spots for new people to join in Year One, as the other 8 move into Year Two. EfM is designed so that multiple “Years” learn together. (Please don’t be discouraged from finding out more about EfM if Wednesday mornings don’t fit your schedule. See below for a list of other EfM groups in the area which meet at different times; there’s also an online option.)

The weekly morning sessions will include a discussion of the readings, food & fellowship, Theological Reflections (TRs), and a brief worship time- drawn either from the Book of Common Prayer or some other source. The readings include biblical exegesis and interpretation, theology, church history, ethics, worship, spirituality, and interfaith encounter. The TRs cover a variety of material and topics, from a piece of Renaissance art to an article in the newspaper. We laugh and have fun. Sometimes we go out to lunch after a session. We explore how others believe and worship: among other things, our experience this year has included two guest rabbis and African-American poetry and song.

Through study, prayer, and reflection, EfM groups move toward a new understanding of the fullness of God’s kingdom. This process can be illustrated by a two-rail fence. One rail is the Christian tradition. The other is the collective experience of the group’s members. The rails are linked by fence posts which represent the seminar sessions where life and study meet. The fence is grounded in the soil of regular worship which is vital to the life of the group.

Is there homework?

Participants are given weekly assignments to study with the help of resource guides, but they are responsible for setting their own learning goals. Most spend between two and four hours in study and preparation each week. In the seminars members have an opportunity to share their insights and discoveries as well as to discuss questions which the study materials raise for them. There are no papers or tests!

What does EfM cost?

Tuition for EfM is $375 for one year. Financial assistance is available; please speak with Fr. Ben. You can also pay by monthly installments. You commit for one year at a time.

How can I find out more about EfM?

EfM brochures are on the tables at the back of the nave and in the Parish Hall. Sample lessons and other information are available at Kathy Ellis and Scott Christian, the co-mentors of Saint James’ group, would love to meet with anyone to explain EfM in more detail and to answer any questions. Just contact us at: Kathy- 540.937.4519,; Scott- 540.272.0438,

How do I join?

Simply talk with Kathy or Scott to get the paperwork. We are hoping to finish enrolling by June 11.

Other EfM groups (all begin in September)

  • Emmanuel, Middleburg – Tuesdays, 11 a.m.- 2 p.m.
  • Trinity, Washington (Rappahannock Co.)- Fridays, 9:30 a.m.- 12:30 p.m.
  • Online EfM- most groups “meet” online in the late afternoon or evening for an hour and a half each week


“The EFM class has added greatly to my understanding of the Old Testament. I now have a much richer and clearer picture of the Hebrew religion and the many ways Biblical stories evolved. The accompanying EFM books have added background and clarity to difficult passages. But more than making the Bible more comprehensible, the books and especially the class activities bring God’s message into the present. The group has made a real effort to be present, come prepared, and share in the conversations. Being in the class has been an eye-opening experience that has expanded my awareness of my personal faith.” Mary Beth Martin

“Some of you might have heard of ‘Centering Prayer’ as a way of grounding you in relationship with God and as a path towards discerning God’s will in your life. I consider EfM to be ‘Centering Study’ in the same vein. In the first year of EfM study, reading The Old Testament and learning about God’s mysterious movements and interactions with the Hebrew people provides an incredible foundation for learning about our Judeo-Christian heritage, and building a stronger relationship with God, your Christian community and the larger world.” Joanne Charles

WHAT EFM MEANS TO ME (recorded at a recent seminar:

  • great awakening

  • eye-opening

  • increasing inner peace

  • better understanding of biblical authors & editors/the context in which the material was written

  • ”aha” moment (s) (lots of them!)

  • makes Old Testament like a comfortable pair of slippers

  • different method of learning about theology

  • opened doors

  • allows us to look at the biblical “big picture”

  • EfM is just the beginning of a life-long journey putting it to use

  • rich group-dynamics—like sharing around a campfire