Please click here for EfM: Six Graduates are ready for Ministry, by Jeremy Sierra
I have participated in both face-to-face and online EfM and have enjoyed both. The joy of EfM online has been being able to have theological conversations with people across the country. We bring our regional contexts and stories with us to the group and it's given me an appreciation of the variety of experiences in the Episcopal Church in the USA. I've also enjoyed the text discussion because I feel much more relaxed--less "on the spot" to develop and express a position statement. Someone can ask a question on the Discussion Board and I have days (not just minutes) to respond. I find this enhances respect and mutuality in our exploration.
Jenifer Gamber, Bethlehem, PA
I love EfM online! EfM online is great for people like me who live in places that don't have a possibility of having a face-to-face group. I have wanted to do EfM for years, but we have lived in small towns and not been in congregations where there were enough people willing to make the kind of commitment EfM takes or near enough to another city where a commute would be reasonable.
Sue, Burlington, IA
While doing the class online might not offer the same intimacy as a face-to-face class, it does offer everyone the ability to participate. I would not be able to take this class otherwise because it isn't offered anywhere close to me. I look forward to every Sunday night, logging on and discussing TR with my friends...and yes, they have become friends after spending almost a year with them. People seem to be a bit more honest and a bit more open online and it leads to very interesting discussions, sometimes disagreements (or interesting banter would be a better word), and honest opinions and thoughts. It's a part of my life that I consider to be treasured "God and me" time that I share with the others in the group. And because we couldn't get enough of it in one night, we decided to add another hour in the middle of our week just to connect and discuss readings. I thank God every day for the opportunity to be a part of EFM online.
Tami, Duluth, GA
I started EfM in the pilot project of EfM Online. I took all four years of EfM Online, but I also mentor a face-to-face group in my own congregation.
EfM Online IS EfM – we just meet differently than a face-to-face group.
We participate in Theological Reflection each week, sharing a Virtual Classroom for 1 ½ hours. We can all see the same things on the whiteboard – whether a picture, video, or text – and we share our thoughts by typing. We can also draw on the whiteboard – we have come up with the most amazing metaphors when we are all drawing.
We engage in text discussion using a discussion board. Students can talk about their lesson any time during the week, discuss with others, and even go back to previous discussions. One group has added to this – members meet in an optional second session each week to discuss their readings.
We schedule the Common Lessons and discuss those in various ways. We worship together – each week a student or mentor provides the worship materials.
We build community over the miles. We share details and pictures of our lives, pray for each other, and care about each other.
EfM Online is a fast growing part of the EfM world. As technology changes, this program will too.
Kay Flores, Casper, WY
This is my fourth year of EFM. I completed two years of face-to-face
EFM in my home parish and have done my third and fourth years online.
While both methods have their strengths and weaknesses, I believe that
my online experience has been the most rewarding. By working together
on the lessons, theological reflections, and common prayers, the online
group has become a vibrant Christian community that supports and
encourages me in my ministries. Since the community is always connected
via email and through the online Discussion Board, the community is
always available to me. It is there when I want or need it and always
provides a safe and loving place to explore beliefs and to try out new
spiritual insights. There are no 'lone' Christians in online EFM. It
facilitates a strong Christian community:
●We listen for God in community
●We do theology in community, reflecting on our tradition and
●We discern the call to ministry in community
●We worship in community
●Since our EfM course is mentored, not taught. Mentors and members
share learning and insights in community.
Being with other members of my on-line “family” and sharing our
spiritual “ups and downs” as we explore our ministry together has
become one of my richest experiences of my formation for ministry.
Lee, Cedar City, UT