Education for Ministry (EfM)

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 will EfM be structured at Saint James’? *

A seminar group of 6-12 people is the nucleus of the EfM program.  The Saint James’ EfM Year One group will begin September 6, 2017 and end in June 2018,  meeting Wednesdays (except holidays) from 9:00 a.m. to noon. (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 concluding 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.

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, will also offer an information session in the Reception Room on Thursday, May 4, 8:30 a.m. and after both services in the Parish Hall during Café on May 7. Or just grab us in the hallway for a conversation or 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 18.

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.

Leeds, Markham – Day & Time to be determined this summer. See Fr. Randolph (a co-mentor)

Online EfM – most groups “meet” online in the late afternoon or evening for an hour and a half each week


“Taking EFM was, personally, one of the best things I ever did for myself. I graduated from the full 4 years in 1988 during the time I was at home with our young sons. The weekly reading and discussions provided me with much-needed adult, intellectual stimulation and spiritual growth. I will never forget the moment I walked into our first EfM meeting:  there was a poster on the wall which read “Jesus came to take away your sins, not your mind.” I was hooked, and that first meeting began a journey of learning and growth for me which continues to this day… EfM certainly gave me the knowledge and ability to assist more in church programs. But, far more than that, I began to realize that each of our lives is a living story of sin and redemption, love, faith, and hope that other people see. How we live is important. If a person lives his life in an authentic effort to show Christ’s love, then it can be the very definition of “ministry.'”  –Kathy Ellis

“After only a few weeks into Year One of EfM, I felt like previously I had been reading the Bible with a flashlight and now somebody had turned the lights on! In relatively brief essays the authors did a splendid job of giving you the important context for each Biblical reading.  Additionally for the Old Testament, they maintained a healthy tension between being true to and respectful of the Hebrew scriptures while at the same time reflecting on the readings through the lens of Christianity. The trust and fellowship that we developed as a group resulted in discussions which challenged me to more fully understand my beliefs and build a stronger foundation for my faith. EfM was the greatest learning experience I’ve ever had in the Episcopal Church.”    -Scott Christian

“Education for Ministry is and has been for the past four decades one of the most effective educational and formational programs of The Episcopal Church. I was trained as an EfM mentor in 1979 and it shaped forever the way I learn and teach. EfM requires a significant commitment of time and focus, but the benefits are even more significant. It is a blessing that EfM will be offered to the people of St. James’ this fall, and I hope that many will explore the possibility of participating in this excellent way of moving deeper into the principles and practices of the Christian faith.”  – Fr. Randolph Charles

* Adapted from material on the EfM website: