I am a member of a group that is working through a program called Education for Ministry, or EfM, that is sponsored by the Episcopal church. I started this four year study over a decade ago, became disillusioned with it, and dropped out in my third year. I started back, with of course an entirely different group of people, last summer. We have a half dozen more meetings in this year, then will break until this coming summer to start again.
In this group, each of the four years (just three for us this time around, as we have no fourth year scholars) , reads a different set of materials, ranging from studies on the Old Testament to the New Testament to church history to ethics. We then discuss, present ideas, share personal vignettes, and sometimes dive deeply into philosophical and religious discourse. It is a wonderful way to get to know not only the subjects at hand, but more about your fellows who are on the journey with you.
We have just come off of an almost three week break for the Easter season, and tonight we got back into the groove by reading a common lesson and discussing it in detail. We always have a small snack and rest period in the middle of the meeting, which gives us more time to share personal stories and activities and challenges.
I realize each time that I am away from this group how important it is to me. The academic stimulation and challenge is refreshing after a long day at my chosen profession. The sense that one is responsible to himself or herself, as well as to the group, to do the work, come prepared and actively participate in the discussions is motivating. The experience of being a part of a group of people who are at the same time very independent and interdependent is growth producing.
I look forward to this interaction every week, and will miss it for the summer months. I will be a fourth year scholar next year, and the material will be challenging and completely new for me.
Happiness tonight is belonging to a group.