Byline: Laura Zahn Pohl Daily Herald Correspondent
Studying the Bible can be very intimidating for those who haven't had some practice, or at least a few years of Sunday School.
That's one of the reasons behind growing numbers of neighborhood groups designed for informal Bible study and discussion.
The easygoing atmosphere and friendship draws participants who may not otherwise attend such a study.
"It's a wonderful setting for people who've never studied the word before," said Jymette Seager of West Chicago.
Seager began a group in her Forest Trails subdivision about three years ago, and it now includes 14 women of varying ages. They have completed the books of Mark, Matthew and Acts, and are progressing to an Old Testament character study.
The West Chicago group is one of 25 in the suburban area initiated by Martha Reapsome, regional director of Neighborhood Bible Studies. This organization, based in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., publishes the curriculum and employs people such as Reapsome to organize groups.
"There are many reasons that people join - sometimes it's just to meet their neighbors," Reapsome said. "Moms find they need the intellectual stimulation and friendship. People come for many reasons and often end up staying."
In the case of the West Chicago group, Seager knew of Reapsome from College Church in Wheaton, where both are members.
"When I started talking to my neighbors about a Bible study, there was a lot of interest," Seager said.
An informal neighborhood coffee typically is the starting point.
Reapsome usually attends the first meeting to lead a beginning lesson and explain the concept. Prior to starting, people often express fears about their lack of knowledge, she said. …