Churches collaborate to offer inter-generational Bible study

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Beginning Wednesday, Sept. 23, McGregor’s First Congregational and First Lutheran Churches will collaborate to offer inter-generational Bible study sessions for area residents of all faiths.

The sessions will be held each week, on Wednesday, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Through the fall, sessions will be held at the First Congregational Church, but will eventually be held at both churches. The program will run until May 18, 2016.

The evening of study will begin with a meal in the first half-hour, followed by an hour of individual classes set up to encompass each specific age group, explained William Gentry, pastor at First Congregational Church.

The idea came about, noted First Lutheran pastor Gary Hatcher, as the churches found the traditional approach to Sunday school was not working as well.

“Our churches have experienced decline in our normal Sunday educational offerings,” Gentry added. “This prompted us to embrace a new approach, something focused on increasing the family’s involvement on a deeper level.”

Gentry said past conventional Bible studies sometimes led to a disconnect between what children and adults were studying. 

“Our hope is, by having a common theme and curriculum, biblical literacy can be spread across the age spectrum and provide additional talking points for parents and children long after the session is complete,” Gentry said.

“This is an alternative for all ages to participate in study,” Hatcher added. “Christian education should always be family-based.”

Now, he said, not only will kids learn, but their parents and grandparents will learn with them, then help to reinforce the lessons at home.

The lessons participants gain will also be a great addition to what they learn during worship services, Gentry mentioned.

“Biblical literacy strengthens our commitment to God,” he said, “and brings a new dimension to our regularly-scheduled worship service.”

In addition, Gentry said he hopes participants will find this form of study fun and inviting. Individuals from other churches, as well as those who do not identify with a specific church but have an interest in learning more, are welcome to attend.

Both pastors said it’s been a great experience for the churches to work with one another, and they hope for support from their congregations and the community.

“These are some main goals we all want to get behind,” Hatcher said. “We want to work to benefit the churches and the community as a whole.

“We encourage people to come and give the experience a try and discover something new about faith or reinforce what you’ve already learned.”

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