Dean Letter: Education For Ministry

Dear St. Paul’s family,
One June 30 we will celebrate the graduation of three parishioners from the Education for Ministry program. Below is a reflection that Mark Patzman has written on EfM, entitled Finding Your Ministry Through Community.
Ten years ago, this month, I first came to the Cathedral following a 20-year plus hiatus from religion.  I had moved to Mission Hills following a separation from my partner and being laid off from my job.  My first time at St. Paul’s, I was so captivated with the sermon that I’m sure that it was somehow written just for me.  Nothing like a good personal disaster or two to reorient your perspective back toward God, eh?
At the time, I came to get in communion with God.  The beautiful space, music, preaching and liturgy put my head into a right space that made me feel more attuned with God.  I did not, however, come for the “touchy-feely” people stuff.  I was here to get in touch with God, not other people.  Twenty years of “don’t ask, don’t tell” might have thrown up some bigger walls that I could admit at the time.
Two years later, after attending pretty regularly and participating in several Wednesday night formation groups including Spiritual Autobiography, the Cathedral’s Holiness in Relationships Task Force, and a small-group retreat to Mount Calvary Monastery to ponder “Heaven”, I was invited to join Education for Ministry, or EfM.  I didn’t know all that much about it, but I felt that my knowledge of the Bible was pretty weak.  So not knowing what I was in for, I said yes.  What happened during the four years was an epiphany…that communion with God happens in community… meaning all that messy, touchy-feely, sometimes painful, often joyful stuff with other people of God actually brings me closer to God!  Who knew?!
Every Christian is called to ministry.  EfM introduces the foundations of our faith to equip us in discerning our ministry.  In small group seminars, EfM develops an informed laity through four one-year seminars.  With all four years running concurrently, the first year focuses on the Hebrew Bible; second on the New Testament; third reads church history; while fourth year tries to tie it all together with some basic theology.  Each year is built around a four-year cyclic theme and next year will be Living as Spiritually Mature Christians.  We meet weekly for fellowship over a meal, to discuss our studies, and to practice theological reflection…seeking to understand where God is within a given picture or scenario. 
Contact for more information.  The next year begins in September.  Registrations close in late July or when the groups are full. 
Finally, we will be standing up an EfM alumni book club in the autumn to allow folks to continue the fellowship and learning that made EfM such a fantastic experience.  Stay tuned for details.
I hope you will consider signing up for this outstanding formation program, specially designed for Episcopalians.
Your sister in Christ,

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