Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Education for Ministry (EfM)

Education for Ministry (EFM) is an opportunity to expose oneself to the great treasure trove of riches bequeathed by generations of believers that makes up the Christian tradition and to understand which pieces speak most directly to the purposes of one’s own life.
The four year curriculum, to which members commit one year at a time, covers a close reading of Old and New Testaments, a history of world-wide Christianity, and a consideration of contemporary ethics, interfaith dialogue, and theology. Integrated into the academic coverage of tradition, there are exercises in theological reflection, spiritual autobiography, prayer life, systematic theology, and ministry.

EFM at the Cathedral:

The community is a small group (12 participants maximum and 2 trained mentors) who meet every other Saturday morning from mid September though early June, 9:30 to 1:15 pm in the Cathedral Centre. This past year we had people from every decade of life between 20 and 60.
There are lively discussions of each year of study within the group as a whole, as well as theological reflection, worship, and contemporary ethics.

Curriculum and Sponsorship:

  • Texts selected or developed by the Faculty of Divinity of the School of Theology at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee and EFM Canada.
  • EFM is fully supported by Dean Andrew Asbil and the clergy of St. James Cathedral.
  • EFM program sponsored by the Anglican Diocese of Toronto and supported by all local area bishops
  • Recognized as training for all Christians as well as for lay leaders and those seeking ordination to the diaconate

Fees and Registration:

  • Annual fees: $350 plus texts books, about another $50.
  • Bursaries: $100 bursaries can be applied for, in cases of financial need
  • Registration: contact Carol Kysela ( to discuss whether EFM is
    right for you.
For more information see the EFM Canada website.

EfM Student Experiences


As someone fortunate enough to have been  part of both the Cathedral and Convent group, I would give this course a five star rating.  I grew up in a Jewish family and formally converted to Christianity in my early forties.  I had heard many of the stories in the Old Testament but had never really thought about them until I took a comparative religion course in University.  I knew nothing about the New Testament except that there was a man called Jesus who many claimed was the Messiah.  I became part of my husband's congregation and attended some bible study sessions; however, I had too many questions that really needed a more in depth examination.  I first heard about EfM from Sister Sue Elwyn at the Convent of the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine in Toronto and I signed up immediately.  One of the first things that we were required to do was a Spiritual Biography (something that we did every year thereafter) and, believe me, I was elated to find out that I was not the only person who did not grow up as an Anglican and that my fellow students were not all experts in quoting Scripture.  I agonized about starting yet another degree at the age of 65 and whether I could read the amount of material required as I have a visual disability.  I thank God for the person who invented the Kindle and for Amazon that provided me with at least 90% of my books which I could read by enlarging the text.  I absolutely loved studying the Old Testament during first year.  I proudly could tell my family that I was reading Torah -- it was like being at the Yeshiva.  In addition to learning how to read Scripture, I was so fortunate to have a great mentor, Carol Kysela, who taught me how to thing theologically about what was happening around me (Theological Reflection).  I must add that EfM is what you make it -- it is up to you how you want to study and apply what you have learned to your life.  During second year, when a large part of the material had to do with St. Paul, I wrote reply letters to him discussing what he had written.  My favourite year was Year Three because my knowledge of the History of Christianity had been garnered from terrible movies that I had seen over the years.  The textbook my Dermid McCullough was fantastic and the discussions in our group were intriguing.  It amazed me how the contributions by students in all four years could come together on one topic, even though they were concentrating on different areas of study.  Theological reflection continued to amaze me as I had now begun to formulate my own Ministry.  By fourth year, my areas of ministry to the marginalized community had been solidified and I knew which path God had directed me to.  The bond among my fellow students has endured over the years and I am proud to say that I have a different perspective of the world thanks to EfM.
Sue Ann Elite, Oblate, SSJD


This ad is an excellent description of the EFM programme. EFM is certainly not for everyone, but it IS for people who take their Christian faith seriously and want to mature and grow in their understanding. Prospective students who are outside the Diocese of Toronto can check with their diocese or the EFM national office (link above) to see if there is a class near them. On-line classes are also available.
 Gail Holland, 4th year student,
St. Matthews, Oshawa


My husband, James, recommended that I take EfM in 2006.  He took the course in McDonough, Georgia and told me that I will learn so much more.  He was right!  The best part was the theological reflection discussions and that everyone had a voice that was heard and listened to.

Edith Reese, EfM Graduate 2010


I started EfM at the urging of Sister Sue--she is a hard person to say "no" to.  As I was already Chaplain to the Ladies Auxiliary at the Legion, I thought it would be good training.  It was very interesting listening to each of the participants every week presenting what they had read and their take on it.  Also, it was good to discuss and relearn the precepts of our faith and the Bible stories I grew up on.  The friendships and fellowship was wonderful.  I hope to keep those friends for the rest of my life hee in the material world.  Thank you, EfM.

Janet Kaminskym EfM Graduate 2009

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