By Jan Potter
EFM will be starting a new class in the fall. We meet on Thursdays beginning the first week after Labor Day in the Library of the church at 6:30 pm. It is a four year program; you sign up each year and there is a yearly fee (scholarships are available to help defray costs). Class lasts about two hours.
Even though EFM is not a Bible study group you do read and study the Old Testament in the first year. This isn’t like a “hear and believe” model. This is a read it and bring your own ideas to discuss what you think it means. In the second year, you read and study the New Testament. In the third year, you learn about the history of the church and the fourth year is more about church ideas and philosophy.
I sometimes wonder why we still study the Old Testament but, the fact is, that was the faith of Jesus – a steppingstone to where we are today. We study the Old Testament to find a starting point for our own faith journey before we move on to the richly nuanced lessons of the New Testament. Studying the history of the church sounds dull, but it helps you to realize what impact the word of human beings have on our faith.
The Book of Common Prayer tells us, in the Catechism, that the ministers of the Church are lay persons, bishops, priests, and deacons. It goes on to say: "The ministry of lay persons is to represent Christ and his Church; to bear witness to him wherever they may be; and, according to the gifts given them, to carry on Christ's work of reconciliation in the world; and to take their place in the life, worship, and governance of the Church."
While I knew this on paper, I never felt particularly qualified to minister to anyone (in fact, like many people, I didn’t think it was my job). With EFM you learn some basics but, more importantly, you learn how to look into the eyes of someone and try to find meaning in the chaos all around us. You learn to listen to stories of the faith journeys of others while realizing that you have your own story to tell – you just didn’t know what to call it. Perhaps you, like me, tend to squirm at the mention of a “faith journey.” You might not think you know enough or you think you aren’t holy enough to even talk about the idea. But you need to understand where you come from and where you need to go. Everything in your life is part of your faith journey. It helps to think about what got you into this church, this life, this time. You realize that everyone around you believes and interprets and lives by their own faith journey. Hearing about theirs enriches your own and helps you to figure out where you fit in.
Please join us. If you are interested, please contact the church office or collar me (Jan Potter) or my husband Chris on a Sunday, or any EFM graduate. We love to talk about it.