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Paul Shackford

St. Andrew's, Harrington Park

I first heard of EfM (Education for Ministry) a number of years ago. All I was told was that it was a four-year program - an in-depth study of the Bible. I didn' t have time to commit to the program but, as the years went on, I kept hearing about EfM.

I tried reading the Old Testament on my own . . . I stopped reading the Old Testament. I simply couldn' t follow it the way I felt I could follow the Gospels and Paul' s letters. While most sermons focus on the Gospel reading, I knew I was missing something by ignoring three-quarters of the Bible. Yet, every time I tried, I couldn' t make it out of Leviticus!

I realized that I needed some help if I was ever to find my way through the Bible. But I also wanted to be able to discuss what I read with other people who were also in the same boat as I was. I have since found that there are many people in that boat! EfM, with its unique approach and model, is just what I' d been looking for.

We gather weekly, beginning with a meal that allows us to get to better know each other. We take turns offering student-led worship which provides an opportunity to put together something that is spiritual and meaningful, and which relates to our ongoing studies. Since members of the seminar may be in any one of the four years of lessons (Old Testament, New Testament, History, or Theology), we then discuss the readings and subjects assigned for that week.

The text for the course is well-structured so that the topics and focus of a given year relate well to the readings of the other years. For the first time, as an example, I saw the interrelationships between the Old and New Testaments and the workings of God throughout.

We also spend time each class talking about current, real-life situations and find how scripture, our traditions, and our history inform our lives. That part - relating Scripture to our lives - is what sets EfM apart from Bible studies I'd attended in the past.

I'm now in my second year, and am studying the New Testament. Reading these books again, but having the background of the Old Testament, is enabling me to better understand the Gospels and the rest of the Bible.

I had been looking for a way to better understand the Bible and my faith. I could not do it on my own, nor did periodic church study groups do the trick. EfM is exactly what I was searching for.


about joining a Seminar or beginning one in your congregation,



for the Diocese of Newark

The Rev'd   Mark Waldon


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