The Education for Ministry programme originated from The University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee, USA. The programme developed during the 1970s to equip the laity of the Christian church through a comprehensive, experiential adult learning programme combining personal study with discussion, reflection, worship, and fellowship in small groups.
As well as the USA and New Zealand, EfM groups can be found in Great Britain, Germany, Australia, Canada, the Bahamas, Hong Kong, Italy, and Switzerland. Over 70,000 people worldwide have participated in the programme.
EfM was launched in New Zealand in 1979 through the enterprise of an Anglican bishop who had encountered the course in the USA. Since then, EfM has informed, nourished, and equipped hundreds of people around New Zealand in their journey of faith, through its unique combination of study, theological reflection, and fellowship. As a result of the passion and commitment of many people over many years, EfM has maintained a steady presence as a provider of theological education in New Zealand.
EfM is respected by major denominations as a significant lay training programme. Many denominations are or have been represented in the New Zealand EfM programme: Anglican, Apostolic, Baptist, Church of Christ, Lutheran, Methodist, Open Brethren, Presbyterian, Quaker, Roman Catholic, Salvation Army and Union & Co-operating congregations.
The EfM programme has been revised several times. The most recent revision was introduced in USA in late 2013, and in New Zealand in < February 2014. In 2019 New Zealand introduced Huia Come Home as one of the books studied. In 2023 it was decided that where possible a New Zealand source will be used for each year.
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