Jacksonville Bible Study Has Been Dedicated to Learning and Sharing the Word for Decades



“In August, I always feel like I’m a plant that needs watering, that I’m all withered,” said Toler, who has attended the Explorers’ Bible Study for 42 years. “I have to come back to Explorers Bible Study to get the living water that comforts me and prepares me for another year. ”

Explorers Bible Study is a national organization based in Dixon, Tennessee, and the Jacksonville Chapter, which was founded in the mid-1970s, meets Tuesday mornings except during the summer at the Lincoln Avenue Baptist Church.

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It is open to adults of all faiths, and on a typical Tuesday the church sanctuary and its classrooms are filled with people, mostly women, eager for in-depth Bible study.

The group is currently studying the first book of the Bible, Genesis.

“Every time I had read Genesis before, it was just gore and guts and not very appealing, but I fell in love with the Old Testament through the explorers’ Bible study,” said said Carolyn VanBebber, a Bible study participant since 2008. “I saw Christ in the Old Testament and the red thread of salvation everywhere.

Sue Walker has attended Explorers Bible Study since 1978.

“We now cover every chapter and verse of Genesis, it doesn’t jump out and it helps you get to know your Bible better when you really study it like that,” Walker said. “You’re going to read something and you’re like, ‘hmm, I’ve never seen this before. I wonder if God just put that there. It’s always amazing what we discover.

Study directors should attend a Monday meeting each week to prepare for Tuesday classes. This makes them better prepared to discuss the lesson for the day, and often class discussions become lively.

“As a leader, I think we are exceptionally blessed because we become good friends and love to share the word of God,” Walker said. “Even though we have different points of view or different thoughts, I have never heard a harsh word spoken. Whatever we share, we share love with each other.

Barb Ginder said that Explorers Bible Study “promotes understanding of the Bible because you actually read the word and don’t over-read a lot of other books. You sit down in a group and everybody, of all kinds of denominations, gives their opinion of what they’ve found and what they’ve seen. Then you go to another conference and that just reinforces all of those things. ”

Ginder said the lessons are based on the New King James version of the Bible, but “some of the ‘aha’ moments happen when class members have different versions because we hear it in many different ways and that reinforces. the message”.

Pam Shinall started attending Explorers Bible Study 40 years ago. She stopped going there for a while due to career commitments, but resumed after her retirement.

“It was dramatically different 40 years ago, you took a lot of notes during the conference,” Shinall said. “It was a little more intense. Study books are different now; he’s a different author every year, which makes him interesting.

Shinall said the classes involved a lot of back-and-forth as participants tried to learn the true meaning of each chapter and verse of the Bible.

“Sometimes the discussion starts off on a little bunny trail, so we just bring them back, keep them on track,” Shinall said. “We are very careful not to talk about denominations because this is an interfaith study. Often times we don’t know which churches everyone is going to.

Janice Hubbs has been attending Explorers Bible Study since 2010.

“My mother kept telling me, ‘When you retire, I want you to come with me to the Explorer’s Bibles study.’ I started to see what it was about, ”Hubbs said. “You realize that when you really read the Bible, everything revolves around Jesus. Every word that is written speaks either of his coming, or of his teachings, or of his miraculous work. He just played so many roles when he was here on this earth.

Lila Painter, a participant for twenty years, enjoys the in-depth, in-depth study fostered by the Explorers’ model of Bible study.

“You do the lesson yourself, you have the focus group, you get all the input, and then the lecture sort of sums it all up,” Painter said. So it’s threefold in your mind as you study the Word. It makes it so much deeper and more meaningful.

“The course makes it easier to discuss the Bible with your family and friends,” Painter said. “It’s even a little harder to talk about it when you know there isn’t a believer in your family, but you do. Then I think the faith and trust that you have in the Word of God shows itself.

Sandra VanBebber, a participant for 30 years, said, “Explorers always take the scriptures and show us how to apply them in our lives. This is what I need the most, ”she said. “I can read something 15 times, but it really gets big when someone says, ‘look what we should do with the Word.’ ”

Participants in the Explorers’ Bible Study said the weekly class was life-changing and that they made lifelong friends through their participation.

Explorers Bible Study was founded in Jacksonville by Carolyn Elias, who moved into the community with her husband Barney when he was hired to construct buildings in the city. She felt that there was a need for such a study group and founded a chapter affiliated with the national organization.

The class had a huge impact on many lives in the area, including Joan Heinzman, a 10-year-old participant.

“I didn’t know the Bible very well. I was not brought up that way. Heinzman said, “But when I started coming here, it all finally fell apart with me. I finally understood what it was about in the Bible.



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