Mother Susan Wrathall of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church wants to help her parishioners have a better understanding of the Bible and to achieve her goal, she has invited them and the general public to take part in a weekly Bible study group.
She’s using, “The Story: The Bible as One Continuing Story of God and His People,” published by Zondervan Books, as a guide.
Participants are responsible for reading one chapter a week for 31 weeks. After reading a chapter on their own, they then gather at the church and retell the story as a group for better clarification, with Mother Susan leading and encouraging them to ask questions if they are confused.
“It’s sort of a Reader’s Digest version of the Bible,” she said during an interview just before the first meeting, which took place in the parish basement on Sept. 26 at 111 West Shore Road. So far, she’s held two classes, with about 20 people in attendance.
“It gets at the heart of the story,” she said of the book. “We’re not going to go into depth as to ‘why,’ but the ‘who’ and the ‘what.’ There are lots of ways to do Bible study and this is just a different way.”
Mother Susan, who has been with the parish for three years, said she was inspired to host the Bible study because she has colleagues who’ve taught the book in similar settings. From what they say, it’s been very successful.
Further, she said it’s important for people to understand the Bible because it brings them closer to God.
“We are people of God and this is our story,” she said. “Like the stories of our families enrich our lives, this enriches our lives as people of God. Like anything else, when we really connect with who we are as people of God, it deepens our relationship with God.”
Also, she thinks it will help parishioners better comprehend her Sunday sermons. On the same note, she doesn’t want them to solely rely on her sermons as a means to learn the Bible.
“It’s your relationship with the story that’s important, too,” she said, coyly adding, “of course, every sermon I preach is worth listening to.”
The first meeting covered the creation of Earth and all God’s creatures, including man. The most important factor from this portion of the Bible for readers to learn, said Mother Susan, is that all people were made in God’s image and likeness.
The second meeting highlighted Abraham and Sarah, with the third meeting scheduled for Oct. 10 slated to showcase Joseph.
According to Mother Susan, they plan to meet every Wednesday for the next 29 weeks from 7:15 to 8 p.m., as well as one Saturday a month from 8:30 to 10 a.m., beginning this week. During Saturday gatherings, readers will cover two chapters at a time.
Mother Susan said people are welcome to attend whichever meeting time they choose and are allowed to mix and match.
She’s also hoping to have guest speakers visit throughout the course to share their knowledge on the subject.
Parishioners say Mother Susan is a great leader and the Bible study group is just what they need.
“Mother Susan is the greatest teacher in the world,” said Donna Johnson. “I’ve always struggled with understanding the Bible, so when I heard about this, I got so excited. I have a decent vocabulary, but it’s hard to decipher exactly what they mean.”
Jeannette Hogan and her husband Tom agreed.
“We’ve lived with the Bible all our lives but do you really understand it?” Jeannette said. “That’s what we’re looking for.”
The book can be purchased through Amazon or Barnes & Noble. If anyone needs assistance acquiring the book, speak with Mother Susan by calling 737-3127 or emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Masses are held Sunday at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., plus mid-week Eucharist each Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.
This Sunday, the parish is holding a “Blessing of the Animals” event at 2 p.m. It is advised that animals are leashed or caged for safety purposes.
For more information, visit stmarkswarwick.org.