According to the men who attend each week, the Friday Morning Men’s Bible Study at All Saints’ is much more than religious instruction. It’s spiritual commitment. It’s fellowship and camaraderie. And it’s life changing.
“It challenges men to be better husbands, fathers, brothers, managers, co-workers and citizens,” says Steve Shelnut, one of the groups earliest members. “Father Reid cites passages of scripture that might make us squirm, but it reminds us of our calling and systematically uncovers the traits of authentic Christian manhood that we all need to hear again and again.”
The class began January 19, 2010 with 19 participants and now attracts an average of 35-40 men each week. Roger Van Duyn, another long-time member, recalls the early days when the notion of a Bible class for men was just a vision. “The idea started in a Wednesday-night Parents’ Class, and it was tossed around for a few months. Father Reid agreed to do it for at least six men, I believe. There were more than six men in the Parents’ class that night and we made the commitment to attend - so Father Reid had the first class. A bunch of us showed up, and a bunch of us are still showing up!”
Bob Scarr, who has been a part of the group since 2010, describes the class as “Bible study as it’s meant to be.” “Attending each Friday morning starts me on a very positive weekend thought process and helps me think more diligently on how I can better serve God. I’m always inspired to look at things a lot differently in my life.”
And that’s just what Father Reid intends. He focuses his teaching on just a few verses at a time, keeping lessons simple and relatable, and choosing Scripture that will resonate with the men. Among the books of the Bible they’ve studied through the years are Titus, First and Second Timothy, James, First Peter and currently Second Peter. “It’s simple, and it’s about Jesus,” Father Reid explains. “I try to teach them the whole Bible by using a few particular verses as a touchstone. I explain how each verse relates to the rest of scripture.”
Steve Shelnut admits, however, that the class isn’t necessarily for the faint of heart. “As I walked in for the first time, I was immediately struck by just how many men attended an active gathering at 7 a.m. that could be described as something between a lecture and a screed. It was clearly not a social event - more akin to a locker room at half time, with the head coach moving frantically around a white board scribbling and circling with his left hand and gripping a lectern with his right. I knew I would have to pay attention. He even called on people!”
Like Steve, Roger Van Duyn also thinks of the class as a “team.”
“Along with the benefits of spiritual education and training, the class goes a long way to meet my needs for social connections,” he says. ”When I was in college, I was on the Varsity Cross Country Team. Once I was on the team, my grades went up - partially due to exercise but also due to being part of a team. In a sense, the Men’s Bible Study is a team activity. It’s not just Father Reid urging us on. We urge each other on too.”
Bob Scarr first learned about the class from church member Phil Mays. They knew each other through the local Rotary Club. “Phil invited me to come to the class back in March of 2010,” Bob remembers. “There were about 8-10 people coming consistently then.” The class kept growing, and Bob kept coming - eventually joining the church with his wife Michelle. “It gives me a better understanding of how to deal with so many things.”
Bob says he now wakes up each morning with two goals in mind: To serve the Lord, and to help at least one other person during the course of his day.
Another class member, Micheal Crawford, discovered the class in the most dramatic of circumstances - a major health scare. “I had a brain aneurism six years ago and someone told me about the healing service All Saints’ has on Wednesdays at noon. I learned about the Bible Study by attending the service. I started coming to the class and truly feel as though God healed me and now I am stronger than ever before.”
Such reasons for attending are as varied as the members themselves.
“For me, it’s survival,” says Roger. “It’s that simple. Life is hard. Serious issues require serious spiritual power. And you can’t get that on your own.”
Steve echoes this thought.
“Men’s Bible Study is a no-nonsense practice of the hard and dedicated men who endure litanies and admonishment in the hope that they might improve their Christian witness,” he says. “Some do leave and they may not come back, but the ones who stay persevere in a promise of being better-prepared and battle-ready Christians.”
If you would like more information on the Friday Men’s Bible Study, contact Father Reid, or join the group any time - you’ll find the men gathered Friday mornings at 7 a.m. in the Luke Classroom.