Academy Launches EFSM Program in Spanish

Pastors David and Rita Flores and members of the Cristo de Sion Church of the Brethren in Pomona, California, have become the first students to enter the new Spanish-language track of the Brethren Academy program Education for a Shared Ministry (EFSM).

For over thirty years, the EFSM program has been nurturing and equipping ministers and laity together in small Anglo churches. Now the program is being made available to Spanish-speaking congregations. The unique design of EFSM offers opportunities for ministers-in-training and lay leaders to discern goals and objectives together and to encourage one another in sharpening their skills while learning about the Christian faith and ministries of the church. The program’s strength is in equipping the entire congregation as they support their set-apart ministers in meeting the educational and theological requirements for credentialing.

First EFSM Spanish cohort

Cristo de Sion Church of the Brethren pastors, laity, and district volunteers. Front row (L to R): Martha Barrios, Rosario Luna B., Clara Díaz, Berkley Davis. Back row (L to R): Francisco Villegas García, Víctor Maldonado, David Flores, Gerald Davis, Rita Flores, Elizabeth Rowan, Cándido Rodríguez. Photo by Nancy S. Heishman

Pastors David and Rita Flores chose to finish the ministry training they had begun through SeBAH-COB by participating in EFSM. Six lay leaders joined the Floreses during a March 2017 weekend orientation in which they familiarized themselves with the program, set goals for their first learning unit, and dedicated themselves as a congregation to the process. During these past few months, they have explored Brethren beliefs and theology through book studies, heritage-focused outreach projects within their neighborhood, and rededication to congregational giving and the practice of Brethren ordinances. The Floreses hope to graduate from the program in the summer of 2018.

Meanwhile, in the Shenandoah district, a new congregation is exploring participation in the EFSM program. Pastors Julio and Sonia Argueta of the Iglesia Pentecostal Buenas Nuevas Church of the Brethren in Waynesboro, Virginia, lead a warm and vibrant fellowship that shares the building with the largely Anglo Waynesboro congregation. The Church Planting Team of the district is giving support as they explore together the prospect of participating in the EFSM program.

Nancy Heishman serves as the coordinator of Spanish-Language Ministry Training Programs. Three English-language tracks of EFSM are also available: Small Congregations, Team Ministry, and Specialized Ministry. Carrie Eikler coordinates these programs. To learn more, please contact the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership at academy@bethanyseminary.edu or visit online at www.bethanyseminary.edu/brethren-academy/.

This release is excerpted from an article by Nancy S. Heishman in the summer 2017 issue of The Scroll, the Brethren Academy newsletter.