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Source: (consider it) Thread: AS: EFM
Cymruambyth
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Are there any shipmates taking the EFM course? Why are you taking it, and what do you get out of it? I'm celebrating tonight - just finished my second year - two down, two to go. I'm looking forward to Year Three - all that lovely church history.

[ 31. December 2007, 02:28: Message edited by: Campbellite ]

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"Tradition is the living faith of the dead; traditionalism is the dead faith of the living." Jaroslav Pelikan

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Duo Seraphim
Ubi caritas et amor
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quote:
Originally posted by Cymruambyth:
Are there any shipmates taking the EFM course? Why are you taking it, and what do you get out of it? I'm celebrating tonight - just finished my second year - two down, two to go. I'm looking forward to Year Three - all that lovely church history.

On balance this is not a discussion thread, but a "Share your experiences" thread that would be better off in All Saints.

Duo Seraphim,Purgatory Host

[ 25. May 2006, 04:05: Message edited by: Duo Seraphim ]

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The Messiah, Peace be upon him, said to his Apostles: 'Verily, this world is merely a bridge, so cross over it, and do not make it your abode.' (Bihar al-anwar xiv, 319)

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Zappa
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I've been a mentor at various times in my career and consider it one of the finest faith and ministry formation programmes around. I'm a bit of a dry academic, so I possibly downplay the action/reflection side of things to be honest, which is a Bad Thing To Do, [Paranoid] but I believe it is, nevertheless, outstanding. EFM graduates have been the single best source of energy and leadership I have had in twenty years of parish ministry. [Overused]

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and mayhap this too: http://broken-moments.blogspot.co.nz/

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Mamacita

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Cymruambeth, congrats on completing two years! That's a big accomplishment. I'd like to hear more about what you liked (or didn't) about the course. I'm finishing up my third year as a Mentor. We had an EFM thread earlier in the year, and I'm glad someone started a new one as I'm anxious to see how peoples' years ended up. I'll post more tomorrow but it's past my bedtime.

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Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.

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RuthW

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I just finished Year One. I started because it I wanted the Bible study. Everyone else in the group had pretty much the same reason for being there, so we spent far more time discussing the reading we'd done than doing the theological reflections and other such stuff. I found it very useful to read big chunks of the Hebrew scriptures, but the discussions were the best part and are the reason I'm signing up for Year Two.

A couple of major complaints, though:

1. The quality of the commentary they provide is uneven at best, and it really chaps my hide to shell out hundreds of dollars to Sewanee in exchange for a binder of material I could get for a lot less money (and in higher quality) if I just bought a single-volume Biblical commentary.

2. The first year reading is divided up in a really stupid way. It starts incredibly slowly, one lesson on Genesis 1, another on Genesis 2, and builds throughout the year, to the point where the last lesson covers all Wisdom and apocalyptic literature. On top of the practical problems created by such an uneven distribution of the reading, it creates the impression that Wisdom and apocalyptic literature aren't very important. Which is just wrong.

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Lynn MagdalenCollege
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quote:
Originally posted by RuthW:
builds throughout the year, to the point where the last lesson covers all Wisdom and apocalyptic literature. On top of the practical problems created by such an uneven distribution of the reading, it creates the impression that Wisdom and apocalyptic literature aren't very important. Which is just wrong.

I don't know EFM, but I'm curious about definitions: do you mean Wisdom literature (i.e., Psalms & Proverbs) or the book of Wisdom? And apocalyptic literature, meaning Revelation, portions of Ezekiel, Zechariah, Daniel, etc. - or the apocrypha? I think "Wisdom" has got me thinking apocrypha. Thanks for the clarification--

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Yerevan
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Hi,
Excuse my ignorance, but whats EFM? Sounds interesting

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Yerevan
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PS Sorry, that should read "what does EFM" stand for?"
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RainbowKate
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Education for Ministry. Splendid program. I finished four years this past December. I'd like to echo what someone said above about Year 1. It is terribly timed with immense amounts of reading. It was the hardest year to get through. I loved Year 3, though, there are some terrible typos in the book. My favorite misprint is the following "they believed that Jesus was a ransom for Santa". That it was published without even decent copy editing is pretty appaling.
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RuthW

liberal "peace first" hankie squeezer
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quote:
Originally posted by LynnMagdalenCollege:
I don't know EFM, but I'm curious about definitions: do you mean Wisdom literature (i.e., Psalms & Proverbs) or the book of Wisdom? And apocalyptic literature, meaning Revelation, portions of Ezekiel, Zechariah, Daniel, etc. - or the apocrypha? I think "Wisdom" has got me thinking apocrypha. Thanks for the clarification--

Sorry, shouldn't have capitalized wisdom -- the EFM commentary does so, so I followed suit. The psalms are treated separately, and not as wisdom literature. Ezekiel is also treated separately and as a prophetic rather than an apocalyptic work. Year One reading is the OT, so Revelation is not discussed at all -- that comes in the last lesson of Year Two. The reading for the last lesson of Year One treats Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes as wisdom literature, with some references to the apocrypha, and Daniel as apocalyptic literature. They expect that people are going to read about half of Proverbs, all of Job, most of Ecclesiastes, and most of Daniel, plus 36 pages of commentary, in one week.

Rainbow Kate: I agree about the copyediting. It's another thing that makes me resent paying so much money.

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Melisande
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I've finished the first two years, am currently taking a year off post-baby, and plan to return for Year Three in September. I'm looking forward to the church history, too; I was a religion minor in college, so I had exposure to things like redaction, pseudepigrapha, etc., and did not have my world rocked by the idea that the bible does not tell an internally-consistent story.

I agree with RuthW and RainbowKate about the odd arranging of the material and the copyediting.

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The door itself makes no promises.
It is only a door.
-- Adrienne Rich

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Cymruambyth
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As a former seminarian I was relatively familiar with the content of years one and two (and I agree that Year One is not well thought out. However, I believe so much time is spent on the Pentateuch to counteract any misunderstandings about it being literal. EFM is definitely not a course for fundamentalists.) I found the amount of reading a bit of a bind, but the discussions at each seminar were wonderful. Best of all were the theological reflections. My priest wishes TR was taught in seminaries and I agree. As I said before, I'm looking forward to Year Three and Church History because I'm a history buff, and the material covered looks fascinating. And yes, I wish someone would proofread the text! My mentors also told me that the earlier EFM courses were very ECUSA-centric, and changes were made to accommodate Canadian students.

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"Tradition is the living faith of the dead; traditionalism is the dead faith of the living." Jaroslav Pelikan

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Amazing Grace

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I'm just about to finish up year one, and basically What Ruth Said.

We are a mixed-year class and all the mentors were with Year Two (because they haven't completed the program). So after some coaching we organized our own lessons. We had the sole Year Three student sitting in with us to give us the benefit of his perspective, which helped. But it was fun to see where it went and has helped us hone our web search skills. (Two threads from Keryg got brought to the attention of my class ... Ruth's class seems to be a week or two ahead of ours, and had their Crisis of Faith during Joshua ahead of ours.)

The "sprint" has been frustrating at times and the guide was worse than useless sometimes (after a certain point I didn't really freakin' care about which source wrote which passages, ya know?). I am glad to hear that Year Two seems to be organized better. (As one of my fellow students said, "Less material. We'll coast.")

I still don't really get TR very well. I'm mostly there for the Bible study, although I'd like to stick around for Church History.

We have a very good community thing going on here, and some good cross-parish interaction (we're a mixed parish group as well).

Charlotte

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Paige
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I've taken a long break from the Ship, but knew I needed to come back and check in on this particular thread because I will be mentoring an EFM group in my parish this fall, and it's a whole 'nother ball game being on this side of the fence!

I took over the group in March, but used the previous mentor's calendar, approach, etc.---now it's time to craft my own. If you could give your own mentor some advice on how to plan and run the sessions, what would it be?

I am going to have a multi-year group---Years 1 & 3 at the moment, though I'm hoping to recruit a Year 2 student who has been out for a while.

I've been apprenticing with a multi-year group at another parish in town, and I love the way the different years interact---we also spend half the night on theological reflections, which neither of the groups I attended as a student did. I find that TRs are the glue that holds multi-year groups together, and that they were the missing ingredient to my own EFM experience. Any thoughts on that?

And I agree with Ruth---the editing on the materials is appalling. I keep e-mailing Sewanee about that issue---I figure if they get enough complaints, they will do something about it....

(In the interest of full discolure, I will note that part of the EFM fees go to pay honoraria for the mentors. My co-mentor and I basically use the money to pay for snacks, since food is the OTHER thing that holds EFM groups together! [Big Grin] )

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Sister Jackhammer of Quiet Reflection

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Mamacita

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Congratulations and blessings to you, Paige, for taking on the Mentor mantle.
quote:
I find that TRs are the glue that holds multi-year groups together, and that they were the missing ingredient to my own EFM experience. Any thoughts on that?
It always boggles my mind when I find out about EFM groups that don't do TRs. Without the TRs, you basically have a Bible Study class. You don't have to slavishly do them week after week, but doing them often is critical. (Critical for two reasons: One, because doing TRs is a learned skill, for both the mentor and the participants, and the more you do, the better you get at it. Two, because the insights that come from TRs are, IMNSHO, where the personal growth occurs in EFM.)

My advice to new mentors would be to get the group going with the Microscope Method (regardless of what the "method of the year" is) and then to experiment with the other TR methods that are in your CLSM book. Using different sources from time to time (Scripture passages, but also TV shows, films, newspaper articles, cartoons, artwork, a piece of music] will stretch them, intellectually and spiritually.

quote:
And I agree with Ruth---the editing on the materials is appalling. I keep e-mailing Sewanee about that issue---I figure if they get enough complaints, they will do something about it....
There was recently a fair amount of bitching and moaning on the mentors listserve* about this very issue. What I understand is that the Sewanee staff is really tiny, operating on the proverbial shoestring. I don't expect a revision of the current edition will come out any time soon. I believe the professional staff there are working on figuring out where EFM can go in the near future -- how to leverage new technology and our modern learning styles (e.g., they have some groups in Montana & Wyoming that meet on-line because of the distance).

*Paige, be sure you sign up for this. It's incredibly helpful... like a cross between Kerygmania and Ecclesiantics, without the tat talk.

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Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.

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Penny Lane
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I completed my 4th year in 1999, while they were part way through the latest revisions. I recall the content quality being uneven, but not a noticeable number of typos, so that must be part of the 'improvements'. I was in a multi-year, multi-parish group with a change in mentors half-way through.

One thing neither mentor did well was keep the group on task. Getting 'on board' could take half the evening, with the mentor often being the worst offender. This isn't a problem on an occasional basis, when someone's life crisis warrants extra attention, but on a weekly basis is problematic. We'd run into the same problem as people would indicate in too much detail what event made them able to identify with the TR situation.

At one point I tried to find another group, but was unsuccessful. The fall after I graduated, a new priest came to my parish who is a very experienced mentor and got several groups going there. Most unfair timing! I've considered retaking a year or two, but just don't have the funds, and I'm not sure I'd be permitted to anyway.

Overall, I found the experience enriching and instructive, but not overwhelmingly life-changing. I think I was expecting more from it, and was disappointed in that regard. Still, I quite glad I did it.

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~Penny

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Paige
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quote:
Originally posted by Mamacita:
Congratulations and blessings to you, Paige, for taking on the Mentor mantle.

You were an inspiration to me on that front, Mamacita---so I thank you. [Smile]

I'm so excited about doing this! The mentor I relieved had a very different style from mine---apparently she was more into lecturing, and when I first got the group, they wouldn't say boo to a goose. By the end of the year, they were all talking over one another, which made me very happy.

quote:
Originally posted by Mamacita:
It always boggles my mind when I find out about EFM groups that don't do TRs. Without the TRs, you basically have a Bible Study class. You don't have to slavishly do them week after week, but doing them often is critical. (Critical for two reasons: One, because doing TRs is a learned skill, for both the mentor and the participants, and the more you do, the better you get at it. Two, because the insights that come from TRs are, IMNSHO, where the personal growth occurs in EFM.)

I agree with you. In another life, I was an academic, so the in-depth discussions of the text were right up my alley---but I always felt as if there was some dimension missing...particularly the issue of how was I supposed to discern my own call to ministry?

When I went to mentor training, we did 5 TRs in a row, and I was enthralled. All of sudden I knew what was missing! So I am committed to ensuring that TRs are the center of what we do---and I am also committed to keeping the question of "What is my call to ministry?" at the forefront.

quote:
Originally posted by Mamacita:
My advice to new mentors would be to get the group going with the Microscope Method (regardless of what the "method of the year" is) and then to experiment with the other TR methods that are in your CLSM book. Using different sources from time to time (Scripture passages, but also TV shows, films, newspaper articles, cartoons, artwork, a piece of music] will stretch them, intellectually and spiritually.

I confess that I feel the least comfortable with the Microscope Method---but that is good advice and I'll never get better at it unless I practice.

I am planning to do another Mentor Training in September, so I think that will help.


quote:
Originally posted by Mamacita:
*Paige, be sure you sign up for this. It's incredibly helpful... like a cross between Kerygmania and Ecclesiantics, without the tat talk.

Thanks so much for that snippet of info, Mamacita---no one has mentioned that to me, so I'll get in touch with Sewanee and ask how to get on the listserve.


quote:
Originally posted by Penny Lane:
One thing neither mentor did well was keep the group on task. Getting 'on board' could take half the evening, with the mentor often being the worst offender. This isn't a problem on an occasional basis, when someone's life crisis warrants extra attention, but on a weekly basis is problematic.

Penny---I had the same issue with the EFM group I finished the course with. They were so deeply divided along philosophical/political lines that the On Board was the group bonding experience. It always made me want to tear my hair out...

The group I've been apprenticing with is great on that score. They spend about 15-20 minutes on it, and it's perfect. I'm going to try and keep to that model.

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Sister Jackhammer of Quiet Reflection

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Amazing Grace

High Church Protestant
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We had a big group (16). Check-in could be a problem. We eventually got a bell that the timekeeper could *ding*.

Paige, we also had a snack rota. I suggest you implement one rather than spending your hard earned pittance. [Biased]

Charlotte

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Autenrieth Road

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Debating resuming with EFM again in the fall. Not sure I can really commit to a full year of diligently doing the readings and thinkings (in between sessions). Completed my first year a year ago, then took a break. Actually was pretty much "missing-in-action" for the second half -- I should have just bit the bullet and withdrawn, I think.

Unsure if I should repeat the first year, or move forward to the second? Or maybe wait another year, work through the rest of the first year materials on my own, and then go on.

Was somewhat annoyed with my EFM group -- Checking In for us also started to take a longer and longer time, and Theological Reflection also (IMO) came more and more to resemble shooting the breeze about our lives and thoughts. Wasn't myself always fully prepared and centered to be able to offer an alternative way to pull the discussion, though.

I would like to learn the second year material -- find out what the New Testament is really on about, and whether that makes sense to me or not.

One of the spectacular things about the first year to me was that it introduced you to a huge set of resources for reading more about the OT. I presume the same is true of other years -- our third years e.g. complained that some of the church history materials covered huges swaths of time and gobs of issues, but at least you'd come out of it with a passing acquaintance with what the terms were and where to go to dig deeper.

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Truth

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Penny Lane
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quote:
Originally posted by Autenrieth Road:
I presume the same is true of other years -- our third years e.g. complained that some of the church history materials covered huges swaths of time and gobs of issues, but at least you'd come out of it with a passing acquaintance with what the terms were and where to go to dig deeper.

Perhaps I'm a bit slow [Smile] , but toward the end of the 3rd year it finally dawned on me that I was part of the continuum of church history that began with the OT and continued through the present time. Our issues today are the church history of tomorrow. EFM was the context in which that lightbulb came on, and for that, I'm grateful.

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~Penny

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Mamacita

Lakefront liberal
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quote:
Originally posted by Autenrieth Road:
Completed my first year a year ago, then took a break. Actually was pretty much "missing-in-action" for the second half -- I should have just bit the bullet and withdrawn, I think...

Unsure if I should repeat the first year, or move forward to the second?

First, I want to say that Year One is probably the most challenging as far as readings go. You have long chapters in the Parallel Guide, plus some big chunks of the OT to cover each week. Perhaps it will help your decision if you knew that Year Two is somewhat lighter. The chapters are a little shorter and there's much less scripture reading to get through. They spend two to three weeks each on Matthew, Luke, John and on the letter to the Romans, so you really have time to study the NT in detail. If you're interested in getting into the NT, I say go for it.

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Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.

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Paige
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quote:
Originally posted by Amazing Grace:
We had a big group (16). Check-in could be a problem. We eventually got a bell that the timekeeper could *ding*.

Paige, we also had a snack rota. I suggest you implement one rather than spending your hard earned pittance. [Biased]

That's interesting about your group---I thought they were limited to 12?

As for the snack rota---we've addressed that for this coming year. My co-mentor and I talked everyone into meeting for potluck dinner before class each week.

I did my first 3 years of EFM with a group in the DC area, and we started having dinner together in Year 2. It was great! We had a chance to enjoy each other's company, eat some great food, and we also got all the chit-chatting out of the way before we got down to business. Sometimes folks from the choir would join us, or group members' kids---it was a lot of fun, and I think everyone came to look forward to it. I certainly did!

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Sister Jackhammer of Quiet Reflection

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Siena

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I'm glad an EFM thread started up again. I'm going to be in the somewhat strange position of starting year 3 of my own EFM course, while mentoring a year 1 group, which is apparently allowed. I go for training this weekend.

I liked the year 1 materials better than the year 2 materials, for what it's worth - probably because the subject matter was less familiar, and I thought a lot of the year 2 stuff was repetitive.

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The lives of Christ's poor people are starved and stunted; their wages are low; their houses often bad and insanitary and their minds full of darkness and despair. These are the real disorders of the Church. Charles Marson

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Autenrieth Road

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The other time thing, more than the accelerating gobs of OT reading, that got to me really, was tracking down and reading the other books they recommend/suggest. Being a perfectionist type, with access to the resources of an academic interlibrary loan system, I wanted to track them all down and read them. I did really like them, although I think I was probably one of the few (very few? only?) in my group who was doing that for the OT readings.

I'm thinking I'll hold off on year 2 another year, and tackle year 1 readings and exercises again, on my own, this year. Somehow there's too much turbulence in my life right now (not really in my life, more in connection I guess with some wierd sort of burnout at work, or something) to commit to an entire year of stuff right now.

Also I need to work through something that really drove me nuts (although not EFM's fault at all), which is someone at church who utterly adored her EFM experience, and is always raving about how fantastic it was, and how her group did all sorts of great things together, and how they did all sorts of amazingly inventive worships together, and on and on and on. So (a) my group wasn't like that, and (b) we didn't for the most part do amazingly inventive worships, and (c) my spirituality is doing just fine without needing a group doing amazingly inventive worships, thank you very much (I can like amazingly inventive worships, and I also can like amazingly staid by-the-book worships -- in fact I can get really irked by people dismissing the riches available right there in the prayer book in a standard service)... hmmm, this mirrors a (completely tacit) disagreement between her and me I realize about our opinion of St. Z's worship, about whether it's adequate or not.

Anyway, I'd like to be able to think of the appropriate thing to say to express, "gee, I'm glad you liked yours so much; mine isn't like that; and it's no help at all to me to hear you rave about yours without feeling that you're prepared to listen to me at all about what mine is like."

I'd been wondering why that gets under my skin so much, but as I was thinking through my wished-for answer, I realized it's the last phrase that really expresses why.

--------------------
Truth

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Mamacita

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quote:
Originally posted by Sienna:
I'm glad an EFM thread started up again. I'm going to be in the somewhat strange position of starting year 3 of my own EFM course, while mentoring a year 1 group, which is apparently allowed. I go for training this weekend.

Best of luck to you, Sienna. This is wonderful news. Enjoy the training (and be sure to get the Mentors Listserve information-- sorry if I sound like a broken record, but it has bailed me out on more than one occasion).

Picking up on AR's comments about
quote:
someone at church who utterly adored her EFM experience, and is always raving about how fantastic it was...
People like that make me a little nervous (even if they're talking about my own group) because I fear they make EFM sound like a cult! And you're right -- it is so important to recognize that everyone's experience in EFM will be different; in fact, if you hang on through all four years, each year will be very different from the others because the composition of the group, and hence its chemistry, changes.

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Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.

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Evensnog
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Thought it might be time to revive this thread.

I'm continuing on with Yr 2, but have mixed feelings about it. We're going to have a much more mixed group this year, and that's going to be a very bizarre transition. I wish there was more time in the schedule to discuss the chapter lessons - I'm worried that there may be some resentment towards the new folks, if anyone perceives their addition as an encroachment on the amount of time we spend on the lessons. Hopefully, my worries are unfounded.

My group is one of the ones that isn't too fond of TRs and we didn't do very many of them last year. I think it may have been an issue of personality types & group dynamics.

I was chatting with a fellow group member last week and we were pondering whether certain personality types are better suited for specific TR methods than others, and possibly some personality types just aren't suited for them at all.

Oh, and I'll toss in a "ditto" to everything that has been said about the typos and general quality of the Sewanee material. I also found the justified text difficult to read.

(Eeek, I sound terribly negative about all this. I'm not, honestly. Let's blame it on my hormones.)

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Amazing Grace

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quote:
Originally posted by Paige:
quote:
Originally posted by Amazing Grace:
We had a big group (16). Check-in could be a problem. We eventually got a bell that the timekeeper could *ding*.

Paige, we also had a snack rota. I suggest you implement one rather than spending your hard earned pittance. [Biased]

That's interesting about your group---I thought they were limited to 12?
We were bigger than that when we started but a couple of people ended up dropping out. I think it was officially two groups.

It was fairly rare when we were all there.

The disadvantage is that we lost one of our mentors but everybody else signed back up, so we're not looking to recruit year one students, which bothers me because I had such a great general experience and want to share the fun. (Especially since there are now exactly TWO people from St. Spike's in this class and I feel as though we're letting down the side [Biased] .) I will be trying to schmooze ex-mentors at St. Spike's for next year so we can expand.

Charlotte

--------------------
WTFWED? "Remember to always be yourself, unless you suck" - the Gator
Memory Eternal! Sheep 3, Phil the Wise Guy, and Jesus' Evil Twin in the SoF Nativity Play

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AlmostRev
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GloriaGloriaGloria--don't give up.

I stepped in as a mentor to a small group a few years ago, and as a mentor I have to go to training every 16 months. The last training was the first time where everyone could sit down & discuss group dynamics. There are many ways a group can handle chapter discussions, TR, snack, check-in, etc. There are many ways to do TR--although there is always the "suggested" method for each year/cycle-if that doesn't work there are many alternatives. I had 3 years of EfM as a student (the group imploded before the start of year 4) and the experience is worth the work.

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TubaMirum
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I will be starting EFM, Year One, this month, and am looking forward to it.

I'm taking it because I'd actually started reading in theology already quite a bit, and I think you really get more out of a structured program. Also, I like the people in my parish and am looking forward to working with a small group (I think we'll be about 8 or so).

I was quite excited to find that Year One is Hebrew Bible; that's exactly what I want to learn more about.

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basso

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quote:
Originally posted by TubaMirum:
Also, I like the people in my parish and am looking forward to working with a small group (I think we'll be about 8 or so).

I was quite excited to find that Year One is Hebrew Bible; that's exactly what I want to learn more about.

I think your group is about the right size.

If you're looking forward to the Hebrew Bible, you may want to take a look at the Jewish Study Bible. It's the Jewish Publication Society translation, and the notes are really excellent. I thought it added a lot to my understanding when I was in Year 1.

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Evensnog
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Folks who have completed Year 2, I've got a question for you.

Were there any supplemental books that you found particularly helpful? I've got a generous gift certificate to a very good bookstore, and I'm just itching to use it.

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Amazing Grace

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I am wondering about the same thing, although I don't have a book cert burning a hole in my pocket.

I got NT Wright's " ... For Everyone" books on the Gospels used on Amazon.

Charlotte

--------------------
WTFWED? "Remember to always be yourself, unless you suck" - the Gator
Memory Eternal! Sheep 3, Phil the Wise Guy, and Jesus' Evil Twin in the SoF Nativity Play

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TubaMirum
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quote:
Originally posted by basso:
quote:
Originally posted by TubaMirum:
Also, I like the people in my parish and am looking forward to working with a small group (I think we'll be about 8 or so).

I was quite excited to find that Year One is Hebrew Bible; that's exactly what I want to learn more about.

I think your group is about the right size.

If you're looking forward to the Hebrew Bible, you may want to take a look at the Jewish Study Bible. It's the Jewish Publication Society translation, and the notes are really excellent. I thought it added a lot to my understanding when I was in Year 1.

Thanks, basso - I'll look for it. You've made me realize that a study guide like that is probably absolutely necessary for Hebrew Bible; there's just so much I don't know going in.

Thanks again!

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Mamacita

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quote:
Originally posted by GloriaGloriaGloria:
Folks who have completed Year 2, I've got a question for you.

Were there any supplemental books that you found particularly helpful? I've got a generous gift certificate to a very good bookstore, and I'm just itching to use it.

I haven't read this one yet, but I know of a mentor that strongly recommends Raymond Brown’s An Introduction to the New Testament. It's quite a tome; I think it goes for around $45. If you haven't purchased a good study bible yet, an Oxford Annotated or the Harper Study bible are both worth the investment.

And basso's suggestion of the Jewish Study Bible is brilliant -- I shall have to get me one of those. (Old mentors never die, they just keep rereading stuff.)

--------------------
Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.

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basso

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quote:
Originally posted by Mamacita:
I haven't read this one yet, but I know of a mentor that strongly recommends Raymond Brown’s An Introduction to the New Testament.

I was going to suggest the same tome. Very good to have.
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Mamacita

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Sorry to dp, but I just realized that I have no manners; everyone's given interesting updates on their group, and I should do likewise. We had an interesting wrinkle last year which really challenged me as a mentor. My group is pretty liberal, theologically speaking. And halfway through the year, a very nice woman who had relocated to the area contacted me about joining the group. She was halfway through Year 4 and really wanted to finish up. Of course I said "yes" to her; one of the benefits of EFM is being able to link up with a group anywhere in the country. Well, in about our first or second meeting with her, she mentioned that she was an evangelical and had been "saved" at the age of five. I think you could have heard the proverbial pin drop. Now, I am not intending to slight this woman's beliefs here; it's just that it was such an unexpected point of view that we were all a little taken aback. [I've since reflected on our collective reaction several times, and found our particular little group of "liberals" to be a bit lacking in the open-mindedness department. Mentor included.] And it did throw a wrench into things for a while. A couple of people in the group pulled back into self-protective mode for several weeks. I finally figured out they were assuming that D would disapprove of them. I wish I could boast of having extraordinary mentoring talents to smooth over the situation, but really, it was the grace of God that caused a breakthrough. One evening we were wrestling with one of Paul's more "conservative" texts, and I -- for once -- had the sense to keep my mouth shut and let the wrestling continue. And grace just descended upon the room. It was a humbling moment. Things got better after that. And I've learned a few things about biting my tongue.

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Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.

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Autenrieth Road

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The revival of this thread makes me realize how wistfully I do want to be doing EFM. I have so many issues and reasons-why-not for this year though, bother.

One of my issues is that I myself can get so cranky in the group when it's not doing what I want it to be doing, instead of shutting up and listening. That wouldn't be something to stop me this year (time and wanting to actually work through all of year 1 are my can't-do-it issues this year). But something for me to work on learning to trust.

Maybe when I resume I can recruit a group of people who want to tackle by-the-book's-method theological reflection occasionally outside of class. If only to prove to myself that it's OK to not do it by the book's method.

I seem to be someone who can simultaneously throw away structure at the drop of the hat, and who wants to hold structure carefully and find meaning inside of it.

I seem to be learning something from somewhere though. I was visiting at a church in July and someone thought I had been to seminary. So not true, but an interesting thought.

--------------------
Truth

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Mamacita

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quote:
I seem to be someone who can simultaneously throw away structure at the drop of the hat, and who wants to hold structure carefully and find meaning inside of it.

That's the trick, isn't it, AR? It's an ongoing challenge for me as a Mentor - when do I let the group's momentum take it off on a tangent (because, I think, the Holy Spirit resides in tangents!). Or when do I bend the theological reflection process and when do I push people "back on track." Sometimes I feel like I'm dancing just one step ahead of my group!

--------------------
Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.

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RainbowKate
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My group always had the different years together (though most of the time we only had 3 of the 4 years represented at any one time), and it was really beneficial. You start making the connections between history, scripture, and theology. It worked very well, for the most part. Prior to my Year 2 our mentor had never screened people who wanted to enter the program, but she did after that. We had a couple enter who despite being Episcopalian were more fundamentalist than Jerry Falwell. In some ways it really shut down the group as there were certain things we just didn't touch because of how they would attack people over things. I had decided to leave the group and find another group as I just couldn't take them any longer (being gay I was their favorite target). Thankfully, they left the group first. I really wish our mentor had confronted them on their behavior up front.

Post-EFM several of us who graduated together have formed a Theology/Religion bookgroups.

It certainly gave me the knowledge and confidence to lead the Adult Forum at my own church.

As for TR's, we did them occassionally with intent, but often just by chance. Our group had a knack of moving into a TR mode rather naturally; I think largely due to having all the year's together. Check-in could/did get very long at times, but we became better as years went on about keeping things short.

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Mamacita

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Very interesting post, RainbowKate. It's too bad your mentor didn't call those people on the carpet the first time they made you (or anyone) a "target." That's so far beyond the pale, especially for EFM, which is supposed to be safe. (That said, I did a lot of behind-the-scenes reassuring of the gay woman in my group, who was concerned that she would be verbally attacked. She was not. Ground rules are important.)

After our "wrestling with Paul" session I ran a whole evening of conversation on various attitudes towards the "authority of scripture." It was really interesting; people in the group found out that none of them were at either extreme and that they had more common ground than they had assumed. The Florida woman told us that some people in her EFM group back home had been very shaken up by the Sewanee materials because they were not literalist. So it does make sense for people to learn how EFM differs from traditional bible study before they jump in.

It's great that your group learned to just sort of move into TR naturally. I'm glad to hear that you've taken that "thinking theologically" into further study. Good on ya.

--------------------
Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.

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RainbowKate
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Mamacita, it was a very startling dynamic when they entered our group, since during my Year 1 I'd experienced it as being a very safe and non-judgemental place. In following years our mentor did do a much better job of laying ground rules.

The most interesting thing that came out of that group was a very sincere relationship I developed with a staunchly Republican, very traditional older woman. S and I disagree on just about everything, but we learnt to really love each other as friends. We bonded over her grief regarding her grandchildren's alcoholic father. As I'd been raised in a home like that I became someone she talked to about how she could be a support to them. And in a strange way that helped me process some of my grief over my parents.

I think we both learnt a lot about looking past differences and focusing on the things that connect us. It taught me a lot about not judging people by "labels" (though I still do that lots of the time, but I did learn it!)

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Evensnog
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We had our first session last night, and on a scale of 1-10, I'd rank it a 5. Spent most of the time hashing out how to divide up the time - there were 4 very distinct groups of thought on that matter, and we haven't exactly reached consensus yet. [Ultra confused] (Oh, our poor mentor!)

Back to TRs for a second. Would those of you who have had positive TR-related experiences mind giving the rest of us some examples of different topics that worked well for you? I'd find that very helpful, as I suspect some of the topics my group used last year were ill-suited.

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RainbowKate
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I think in general (at least until the group is well bonded) using subjects that are not politically charged is helpful. The format we often used was to take an example from a movie or popular culture (we had a fondness for Peanuts cartoons) and discuss the scenario, then move out and relate that scenario to something in our own lives where we felt the same emotions, and then moving it into scripture and what stories connect to those emotions/events.

If we used an event in someone's life as the starting point the key piece is that it had to be something that was over and resolved.

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Mamacita

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quote:
Originally posted by GloriaGloriaGloria:
Back to TRs for a second. Would those of you who have had positive TR-related experiences mind giving the rest of us some examples of different topics that worked well for you?

Gloria, I'll dig out my notebook from the last couple of years and get back with a few ideas.

--------------------
Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.

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AlmostRev
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quote:
Originally posted by RainbowKate:
Prior to my Year 2 our mentor had never screened people who wanted to enter the program, but she did after that. We had a couple enter who despite being Episcopalian were more fundamentalist than Jerry Falwell. ....I really wish our mentor had confronted them on their behavior up front.


One of my fellow mentors at the last training claimed to have been the only Episcopal priest baptized by Jerry Falwell...

When I applied for my first year of EfM, the mentor said that if I were fundamentalist in my beliefs and took everything literally, EfM would not be a good fit. Evidently she, too, learned from her experience--she had a married couple in one group who made the rest of the group uncomfortable with their constant interuptions and judgemental statements towards other group members with liberal leanings. The couple graduated, and set up a group that met on the same night as the EfM group, but in the room next door. We could hear them praying for us... [Snigger]

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Evensnog
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We have a handful of new people in my group this year who, while I would hesitate to label them as strict fundamentalists, definately lean towards that end of the spectrum. Let's just say that the documentary hypothesis was a new idea to them, as was some of the material on myth/legend.

The academic/chapter discussion time isn't working out too smoothly - everyone wants to talk, and we have a lot of type-A talk-a-holics, and there simply isn't enough time. For example, this past Wednesday, We started off with the Year 1 and then Year 3 lessons, and spent so much time on them that there was no time to spend on the others.

I think this is one area where Sewanee needs to rethink the program. We've got 14 including the mentor, and by the time you subtract the "Getting on board" time and the time for worship, that doesn't leave very much time.

I've thought about suggesting we break into smaller groups for this part, so that we can actually have discussion on the material. Anyone ever tried this, and how did it work?

Otherwise, we're plodding ahead with the spiritual autobiographies. How about everyone else?

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Mamacita

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Sewanee puts the size limit at 12, not counting the mentor. I get the impression that some groups stretch the size (and can understand that, because it can be difficult to split up, especially if there isn't another available mentor). But they're quite clear with us in mentor training that the group dynamics get problematic when the group is too large. A couple of suggestions (including keeping the on-board time very short -- or tacking 15 min. "early" time before the meeting starts, if people like to gab):
My very often divide my group up for the chapter discussions -- even though we only have seven! Sometimes I divide them by "years." Sometimes I say "pair off with someone you haven't worked with for a while." Sometimes we do it by chance. I let the pairs/threes/fours talk for 20 min and then we spend another 20 min with each group reporting the high points of their conversation. Then I sort of wrap up, help people draw connections between the conversations, all that mentory-type stuff. Sometimes, if the Holy Spirit is hanging around and we're tuned into her, we can segue right into a TR from there.
Your group could also try a "talking stick" or something like that. But I think subdividing them for the chapter discussions makes more sense.

I still owe you some TR suggestions -- I haven't forgotten, I'm just disorganized. My group starts Tuesday. Time to get my act together!

--------------------
Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.

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Evensnog
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I think I'll give our mentor a call this week and ask if we could consider splitting into smaller groups for discussion - see how the group feels about trying it for a week or two and seeing how it works out. [Smile]

The talking-stick might not be a bad idea (there's a handful in this group who literally cannot keep their mouths closed when others are talking!) but I'm only partly jesting when I say that it would probably wind up being used as a weapon (ie, "Shut up and let me finish what I was saying!" *WHAP!) - Guess we'd need a soft and fluffy talking stick, like a stuffed animal.

As far as the TR ideas - no rush on that, I know you're busy with getting things set with your group!

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Amazing Grace

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GGG-

We were about half-and-half years one and two, so we ALWAYS split for the lesson part and rejoined at snack time.

Interestingly enough, all of our mentors were going through year two (for the second time ... long story) so after a few sessions they left us year ones by ourselves for lesson. We rotated assignment for "facilitating" the discussion - there were six of us so it wasn't burdensome. We had the benefit of the sole year three student, who sat in with us and helped with "big picture". (Actually I think he'd make a good mentor. Maybe I'll suggest it.)

Charlotte

--------------------
WTFWED? "Remember to always be yourself, unless you suck" - the Gator
Memory Eternal! Sheep 3, Phil the Wise Guy, and Jesus' Evil Twin in the SoF Nativity Play

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Anna B
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I'm starting the first year of EFM tomorrow evening. I've really been wrestling lately with the question of what I'm called to do with my life, and I'm hoping this will help. Prayers please!

--------------------
Bad Christian (TM)

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