Bible Study Groups a Community Project; Fernandina: 20 Churches Represented

Article excerpt

Byline: Amelia A. Hart, Nassau Neighbors staff writer

For Marie Stanley, the journey began with a friendly invitation from her new neighbor across the street to attend the women's Community Bible Study group in Fernandina Beach. It was an invitation that changed her life.

"CBS has helped me develop a very personal relationship with the Lord. I have come to appreciate the discipline of spending time in study and prayer," said Stanley, a retired health care executive. "I always used to say later, but through Community Bible Study, that has become the most important thing in my life. I've learned how to be still, how to be quiet, how to listen to God's will for my life."

Now Nassau County organizers of Community Bible Study, an interdenominational Bible study movement, are hoping even more area residents will join them in developing a better understanding of the Bible and discovering its relevance to their lives.

The Fernandina Beach women's Community Bible Study group started three years ago with 60 to 70 members, Stanley said. Through word of mouth, it has grown to almost 300, and is testing the capacity of its current meeting place at Amelia Baptist Church.

A men's CBS group began last year, attracting 70 men in the beginning before dropping down to about 45, said teaching leader Norm Purdue, an Oyster Bay resident and retired marketing executive. The men's group is hosting a rib and chicken cookout at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Chem Cell Club on Chemcell Road on Amelia Island to recruit more men to join. In order to have enough food on hand, those planning to attend are asked to call Purdue at 491-0303.

A Teen CBS group also is forming, under the leadership of Dina Dobrosky, a Fernandina Beach resident who owns the Monkey Barrel, a children's clothing store. Informational meetings are being held at the McArthur Family YMCA to spread the word about the new group, which will begin in September, Dobrosky said.

"It truly is Community Bible Study," Purdue said, putting the emphasis on "community." "It's open to everybody, and nobody is excluded."

According to its Web site (go to Jacksonville.com, keywords: community bible study), Community Bible Study began in 1975 in Bethesda, Md., when more than 500 women, from several churches, signed up to study the Gospel of John. The next year, other classes began in nearby Alexandria and Tysons Corner, Va. Two years later, there were Bible study classes offered in California, Colorado and Tennessee, with more added each year, including in England.

As of September 2001, approximately 84,000 adults, children and teens were enrolled in the Bible study classes, including 465 adult and 44 teen classes in the U.S.

Community Bible Study curricula divides the books of the Old and New Testaments into 30-week courses of study. …