400 Meetings of the Friday Men’s Bible Study
On February 15, 2019, the Friday Morning Men’s Bible Study will celebrate its 400th meeting. Every Friday morning for more than nine years, All Saints’ Episcopal Church has hosted a Men’s Bible Study. The bible study is attended by men from our church and throughout Polk County. It is a great way to get a solid biblical footing for the upcoming weekend. These classes have covered I and II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, James, I and II Peter, and we are currently studying I Thessalonians. Father Reid Hensarling leads the study, and each week a different volunteer brings a light breakfast for the entire group. During summer vacation, the men continue to meet on Fridays for fellowship.
The idea for a men’s bible study was brought up to Father Reid in 2008. I had attended a men’s bible study with Father Eric Kahl at St. Phillip’s Episcopal in Coral Gables, Florida, and wanted to do the same at All Saints’ in Lakeland. Father Reid was unsure if there was interest, but offered that he would lead the study, if six men would show up on Friday mornings at 7 a.m. Six were found, with help from Linda Marichal, and the first study was scheduled for January 8, 2010. At the first Bible study, nineteen men showed up. In the years since that initial meeting, the weekly attendance has never fallen below 20 and has often averaged over 40 participants.
How the Study Works
The format for the study is a mixture of reading from the Bible, commentaries on the particular biblical passages and a practical application to our lives. The study of the Bible is intended to be thorough and not a sprint. The first book studied was First Timothy, one of the shortest in the Bible. The study of First Timothy took two years. Father Reid’s weekly bible study usually uses several commentaries to give a well-rounded depth to our study. An invaluable lesson we have learned is the importance of using commentaries to supplement our bible study. The commentaries give background and a better understanding of the what, where and why of a biblical passage. Additionally, the commentaries give the reader a glimpse into the setting of when the original biblical passages were written which lends itself to a deeper understanding of the Scriptures.
The bible study attendees also participate in class discussions through questions and experiences they have had, which helps everyone understand they are not alone in their often challenging Christian journey. A definite theme of the study is an application of the Bible to the snares everyone faces in their daily lives. The study is not focused solely on the individuals in attendance and their interaction with their wives, children and grandchildren, but also their peers and areas of influence. The first several years of the class emphasized leadership in the home and being a servant to our families; however, the Christian walk is also about loving our neighbors, the ones who like and dislike us, and serving others. More recently, the study has discussed our service to others and how Christ instructs us.
A Call to Service
The bible study’s discussions of serving our families and serving others has fueled a desire to take action and implement what we have learned. This fuel has sparked a fire at All Saints’ and has manifested itself in the Outreach Committee. All Saints’ Outreach Committee has grown and become more active with the assistance of the men from the Friday Morning’s Bible Study. Our Friday Morning Men’s Bible Study Chaplain, Deacon Robert Johnson, heads up a number of All Saints’ outreach programs. A majority of the participants of the Outreach Committee and the Vestry at All Saints’ trace their roots to the Friday Morning’s Bible Study.
We look forward to the next 400 meetings of the Friday Morning Men’s Bible Study. We will continue to focus on the biblical instruction to lead and serve our families and the community around us. Please join us as we seek to serve God in our daily living.
By Christopher Mank