Exploring faith Matters grew out of the initial planting by the late Revd Christopher Lee in 1988 of the Education for Ministry programme developed by University of the South, Sewanee in the US. From his villages in Gloucestershire Chris led the UK national expansion in 1992. He was driven by the vision of lay people having access to a theological education equivalent to that of ordained clergy – and his enthusiasm was infectious.
At the heart of the programme has always been theological reflection in groups together with specific reading undertaken at home. The groups are guided by mentors who receive regular training; this enables boundaries to be kept and members of groups to be feel safe in expressing themselves. The name Exploring faith Matters was adopted in 2009 in the UK as it reflected the reality of the programme here.
Numbers of groups and students have varied over time. EfM has had associations with Chester University, had a stand at two Lambeth Conferences and been present at the Christian Resources Exhibition and Greenbelt, both for a couple of years. Annual Conventions have allowed those connected with EfM to meet regularly and worship together. Newsletters kept many people informed of the EfM world.
Those who have completed the four years – or sometimes only part of the course - have frequently made significant life-enriching changes. These could be in jobs, home life, voluntary work, or just attitudes that then have long term influence.
The management of EfM has been through a group representing those currently actively involved in it, or who have completed the streams of study. There has always been a paid administrator and a volunteer treasurer.