Going back to school was not my idea of a good time. As a matter of fact, after I passed the bar exam, I swore I would always keep my driver’s license up to date so that there would never be a chance that I would have to take an exam ever again. Well, Education for Ministry (EfM) has helped me keep that promise and still move forward with study, academic exploration, theological reflection and fantastic debate and discussion. The EfM program offered by the University of the South at Sewanee is part of the formation offerings for adults at Calvary. It is a fascinating four-year program that provides an opportunity for classroom-style engagement alongside spiritual exploration. The class reads many books (including the Bible!) and meets one time per week for about two hours, where a variety of perspectives on the readings takes place.
I loved the history part and the textbook that walked us through 3,000 years of Christianity. Yes, not 2,000 but 3,000, by backing us up to the years of the Jewish faith that brought us to the birth of Christ. The Crusades became a little bit clearer in historical perspective. Tragically, I certainly can see why some folk are still mad about that.
The overall growth of Christianity in the Protestant church was another piece of history that I now can put into clearer perspective. Others in the class had their favorite part and also their least favorite part—just like school.
Our class has been a wonderful group of people who sometimes eat together, always pray together, love to laugh together, and even sometimes cried together. The year that both of my parents died, the kindness of my EFM class led me out of a sadness that any other group might not have helped. This group of Calvary people shares so much, but we don't get too mushy. We learn so much, but we never intimidate each other. The reading can be a lot, but thank goodness there are no tests to make me break my promise to myself.
EfM graduates with mentors Betty Jo Dulaney and Martin Jellinek. Martin "retired" from being an EfM mentor in May after 18 years of service.
Back row (l-r): Jane Slatery, Betty Jo Dulaney, Rick Shields. Front row (l-r): Martin Jellinek, Claudia Haltom, Lucia Crenshaw, Cash Shields.