By Jemalee Adams
When I joined St. Thomas, one of the many opportunities offered for spiritual growth was a Wednesday Bible Study. I jumped right in, as my vocation for over 50 years has been studying the Bible through the Episcopal church and other related programs. I have discovered over these years that every time I study the Bible with each group I am part of, God teaches me something new about Christ Jesus, myself, the Church, and God’s love for all His creation.
DID YOU KNOW?
We currently have two Bible studies going on at St. Thomas on Wednesday mornings. The Rev. Dr. Virginia Monroe leads a group studying the Sunday Gospel from 10 to 11 AM and the Rev. Jeannie Randall leads another group at 11:00 that is studying Romans. YOU are invited and encouraged to join in the fellowship, the exploration and the meaningful discussions under their excellent leadership.
WHY STUDY GOD’S WORD?
Our Book of Common Prayer states that “the word of God …contains all things necessary to salvation” (526). God speaks to us today through His Word just as he spoke to the many authors over the centuries who wrote the Bible. The Bible narrative tells of the “cloud of witnesses” who came before us and in whose stories we discover our spiritual heritage. When we read, study, and explore God’s Word we enter into an ever-changing relationship that the Holy Spirit uses to lead, challenge, and grow our faith and our Christian service to others.
It is life-changing to read scripture, use your imagination, and find yourself in the truth of the Bible narrative. Bible study is transformative, leading to a greater awareness of God’s love for His Creation exemplified through the birth, life, death, and resurrection of His Son, Christ Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit poured out on His apostles and the early church. That Holy Mystery is still at work today in His church, the Body of Christ! The Bible also presents life issues that are relevant for the challenges of our lives right now. It speaks truth to the daily struggles and concerns we encounter today.
HOW DOES THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH APPROACH BIBLE STUDY?
Episcopal Bible studies are dynamic groups that encourage you to use your imagination, engage with the text, have an inquiring mind and ask questions. Discussion is encouraged! Pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance while studying and read through the three-way lens of Scripture, Reason, and Tradition. Jesus Christ is always the center of how we understand the Bible. It is His spirit of love and justice we seek to exemplify in our lives. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, in a talk to the Executive Council in June 2017, states that “part of the Episcopal Church’s vocation is to bear witness to a way of being a Christian that actually looks something like Jesus of Nazareth.”
WHY SHOULD I STUDY WITH A GROUP?
I have often heard it said that Christianity was never intended to be a spectator sport! In fact, Jesus used a small group to train his apostles. God designed us to need Him and to need each other. Studying the Bible (and related material that develops our Christian faith) in a group provides a community that holds us accountable to being active and dedicated to spiritual growth. In a group study, we grow and are stretched beyond our personal opinions and knowledge.
Encountering God’s Word together, we share different perspectives and insights. We discover different applications and discernments that touch our minds and hearts and even change our lives. Christianity is relational, and a study group becomes a network of friends who support, encourage, and help us navigate the peaks and valleys of life. It is also a place of celebration, prayer, and encouragement. As we grow together in the Spirit of Christ, we are changed and better equipped to live as followers of Jesus, with lives empowered by love of God, ourselves, others, and all God’s beloved Creation.
WHAT DO MEMBERS OF THE BIBLE STUDIES SAY FOR THEMSELVES?
- “I love the people in this class and the different ways of explaining their interpretation of the Word.”
- “Bible study sets a time and place that keeps me accountable for studying God’s Word. As I have grown older I understand His words differently. I take the time to think about what it means to me and I love the discussions we have.”
- “This is one hour a week that inspires me, teaches me, soothes me, and it has given me a group of loving, caring friends. I am so grateful for this Bible Study.”
- “Bible study brings the scripture to life with the history, culture, and people of the times. I hear the thoughts of others in our group which helps me form my faith.”
- “It completes my week!”
- “Bible study is my time for centering.”
- “The Bible study is like a family to me and we all care for each other.”
- “Bible study keeps me connected to my faith and to a community of perpetual learners.”
- “I attend to expand my knowledge and to connect with Jesus in a more personal way.”
- “As we grow in knowledge and in spirit, we also grow in prayer for St. Thomas and for each other.”
- “There’s never a dull moment!”
BUT WAIT…THERE’S MORE!
The Adult Christian Formation programs offered on Sundays this fall will provide further opportunities for group study! The Rev. Dr. Virginia Monroe will lead a Sunday morning Bible study, and The Rev. Ranie Neislar will lead a faith-related book discussion group.
Please contact the church office for the latest Christian Formation and study schedule.
Presiding Bishop: Following Jesus means being a living witness, not a slogan