St. James The Less Episcopal Church
Ashland, Virginia
Adults & College Ministry
EfM - Education for Ministry


St. James the Less boasts a lively tradition of participation in the Education For Ministry program.  The current seminar group is sponsored by George Spagna and our church boasts a number of currently accredited and former mentors.


What is EfM?

EfM is a distance learning program of theological education, created and administered by the School of Theology of the University of the South, in Sewanee, Tennessee.  Completion of the program takes four years, during which participants study the Bible, church history, and 20th Century theology.  Participants commit one year at a time to meet regularly in seminars led by a trained mentor.


What is the purpose of EfM?

EfM provides a comprehensive, experiential education in the foundations and message of the Christian faith.


Who participates in EfM?

EfM is for the laity of the church.  Every Christian receives the call to Christ’s ministry at baptism.  EfM provides the basics of a theological education in order to develop knowledge and confidence about the ministry we all share.  Since its beginning in 1975, more than 54000 persons throughout the United States and overseas have participated in EfM.


Why do people participate in EfM?

Many desire to increase their knowledge of the Christian faith.  Some want to continue their spiritual formation, or they wish to prepare for special lay ministries.  People have joined EfM and become involved in social ministries, worked in nursing homes and hospices, become better Church School teachers, lay readers, Christian education and church leaders.  EfM is also a way to prepare for seminary studies or participate in local ordination programs.


What can you expect from EfM?

Each seminar group of six to eleven students is led by a mentor.  The group usually meets once a week during a nine-month cycle to reflect theologically, discuss the materials they have read, and to worship together.  Students follow a lesson and a study guide which are to be read each week.  There are no tests or papers to write, because EfM presupposes that adult education best takes place when the student is responsible for his or her own learning.


Who are the mentors?

Mentors are men and women from a variety of professions who have engaged in serious religious study.  They are comfortable with helping others express their points of view and have the ability to lead a group effectively.  EfM mentors complete an 18 hour training session at least once every 18 months n order to qualify to lead a seminar group.


Why does EfM work?

EfM works because people are hungry for theological education.  It works because the program comes to the student in his or her home town and provides credible scholarship, carefully supported by a tried and tested educational design.  EfM works because it adapts to a variety of situations under a wide range of leadership styles and expectations from students.


What does EfM do for the Church?

Graduates of EfM fulfill many ministries and bring to the church a laity better prepared to make decisions and fulfill the Great Commission – to bring Christ to the world – in an effective and loving way.  EfM’s 14,000 plus graduates have become a source of informed, committed, and  prepared leadership for the church.


Where is EfM used?

EfM has contracts with most dioceses of the Episcopal Church.  It is also used among Methodists, Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, and Disciples of Christ.  EfM is found in Australia, the Bahamas, Canada, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Honduras, and in Europe.


What kind of credit does EfM give?

The University of the South grants eighteen Continuing Education Units (CEU) for each year of EfM.


How can I get more information?

Contact your local clergy, or your diocesan office for the name and address of your local EfM coordinator.  Check the WEB for more information at or contact George Spagna, at

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