Education for Ministry (EfM) — Words From a Graduate

There is an old adage that says, “You don’t go looking for something until you need it.” This can be applied to just about everything in our lives, from our car keys to Christ. Back in 2008, two life shattering events happened to me (the details need not be retold here); events that convinced me that I needed something. My search for that something led me first to St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, which led me to EfM, which let me to this moment. Now, I cannot say with absolute certainty that I have found what I was looking for, but I can say that I’ve come to the conclusion that one’s walk with God is an everlasting journey, an eternal cycle of exploration and discovery.

My eyes, ears and spirit have been opened. EfM has enabled me to see, hear and feel with greater clarity and assurance the beauty, majesty and unity of God’s creation. It has made my on-going journey much more meaningful.

EfM is not just bible study. One does not come to EfM to learn how to quote bible verses, but through theological reflection, spiritual autobiographies, questions and discussions, and peer-led group worship, one learns not just to speak scripture, but to live and do scripture. As St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the gospel at all times, use words when necessary.” Besides, the last thing most non-seekers want to hear is a bunch of bible verses being thrown at them. Their shields go up and their defenses dig in. They have not yet seen the need, so they have not yet started looking. This is not to say that evangelism has no value or is pointless. Those people who know you, or know of you, may or may not know where you stand. But they have been observing you. They have noticed your actions and behavior. And more often than not, they will eventually ask you something similar to, “Hey, what makes you tick?” At that point, a doorway to dialogue has been opened. At that point, they have become a seeker. The spirit has moved!

EfM promotes dialogue and allows plenty of room for the spirit to move. Everyone is encouraged to offer their beliefs and opinions. We’ve all been places, done things, experienced things, heard and read things that perhaps no one else in the group has done. Everyone brings in something new and beneficial to the EfM table. Everything is respectfully listened to. When I came to EfM I dragged in behind me the Apocrypha and many pseudepigraphal writings. This atmosphere of safe, respectful, inclusiveness fosters a deep feeling of community. You feel very connected to the other members. It is difficult not to feel close to those who have bared their soul to you and you to them. I will always remember them and be eternally grateful for their presence in my life.

So, if you’ve ever wondered why we Christians believe some of the things we believe (and to be honest, some of our beliefs, on the surface, sound a little far-fetched; if not downright weird), if you’ve ever wondered how and why we worship the way we do, how our rituals came about and what some of the symbols mean, or if you are trying to work through and resolve your own personal doubts, (yes, it happens), then you are needing something and you are looking for answers. You are a seeker. And perhaps EfM would be a good place to start. Follow your heart, and come to that God-wrought decision. Pray about it, talk to God…and then go talk to Gini.[1]
And now the journey continues….

Philip Matteson
2016 EfM Graduate



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