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Theological education available to the laity

by
15 March 2013

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From Revd Gary O'Neill

Sir, - Sandra Tracy asks for "regular, overt, teaching and preaching" for all church members (Letters, 22 February). In this country, she need not look any further than Exploring Faith Matters (EfM). In this four-year course, designed to give lay people a thorough theological education, the first two years are rooted in study and exploration of the Bible, and the whole of the third year is devoted to church history and the place of Anglicanism, before looking at the kinds of theological choice that face Churches and believers in the 21st century.

In EfM, however, we would not encourage lay people and church members to be on the receiving end of this education, but rather to be companions together on the way. The mentors or facilitators of our groups resist the temptation to teach: their responsibility is to create an environment in which all will learn at their own pace and in their own way.

Furthermore, as someone who has mentored groups for more than 20 years in the dioceses of Manchester, Birmingham, and now Chester, I know that these groups are more effective when they are ecumenical, and richer still when the facilitation is lay-led.

EfM is very happy to offer our skills and experience to any parish, congregation, diocese, or group of people who would like to deepen their understanding of our Christian heritage.

GARY O'NEILL
Director of EfM UK
10 Neston Close, Helsby
Chester WA6 0FH

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