The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) ecently began a year-long ‘Living our Faith’ emphasis on reading the Bible.
ELCIC members are encouraged to gather together for a Bible Book Club once a month – either online or together as it is safe to do so, for discussion on the chosen monthly Bible book selection. Questions for the book club gathering are provided which makes it even easier for the group leader.
Rev. Matthew Diegel of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Thunder Bay, ON., hosted an introductory Bible Book Club meeting on Zoom in mid-September. Members of the congregation joined together and watched National Bishop Susan Johnson’s video introduction, reviewed the introductory pages for the book of Genesis, and talked with their pastor on the vision of the year-long emphasis. The group then met on Wednesday, September 30 for the first session.
“It actually went quite well,” Rev. Diegel said of the first online gathering. “People had all read the material and looked through the questions. We got through most of the questions, and boy, was there ever discussion! They even put me on the spot for a couple translations. Everybody that was there was excited to read the next part for the coming month.”
Rev. Diegel – who proactively sent out an informative news piece pertaining to the Bible Book Club in the church’s weekly newsletter, while also simply re-sharing the introductory video from the National Office on Our Saviour’s Facebook page – was impressed with the response of his church, considering the group hadn’t held a regular Bible study for a handful of years.
“Quite frankly, I think this was the perfect time to do the Bible Book Club,” Rev. Diegel reflected. “I set up the Zoom meeting, and it went on for roughly an hour and 15 minutes. Obviously, we couldn’t gather in person, so this was a way to cater to the needs of those who are unable to drive, or don’t go out on their own, or have vision problems… This scenario worked really well for us. Probably half of the people that signed up were newer members, so that was a really nice treat.”
In the British Columbia Synod, the congregation of Mount Zion Lutheran has also jumped on board in hosting a monthly Bible Book Club online gathering. Led by Pastor Marlys Moen, the New Westminster, B.C. based church has quickly adapted to a new focus for one of its four ongoing monthly Zoom Bible studies.
“As much as possible, we try to participate in National Church activities,” Rev. Moen said. “We followed the year of prayer emphasis last year, and this year we will be doing the Bible Book Club. Since the summer, we have been doing weekly Bible studies; we touched on the racism piece in June, but mainly dwell in the Word while using the Gospel text for the coming Sunday. The Bible Book Club fits quite well because it’s a monthly conversation. We are now using the last Bible study of the month to check in and talk about what we’ve learned through the books of Genesis in September and now Deuteronomy in October.”
“This group that we are meeting with, a lot of them are in their 70s and 80s,” Pastor Moen said. “It’s not exactly the group you might expect [for an online meeting]. Yes, it is a little risky, and a few people really struggle with the technology, but it has really been a great learning experience for all. For those with health issues, this allows them to be a comfortable participant from at home. This connects us with people we may only otherwise see at Christmas or Easter. One of the women who logged on to our Bible Book Club had never been to a Bible study before – at least that I could remember, and I’ve been here for 18 years! It is a way to stay connected. Connected to one another, and connected with the larger church. If you don’t try, you’ll never know what you may have stopped yourself from experiencing.”
You can find out more about the Living our Faith: Bible Book Club at the following link – https://elcic.ca/livingourfaith/biblebookclub.cfm