SPRING HILL — About 15 people from Grace Presbyterian Church have decided to start the new year by taking a fresh look at the Bible.
Using the Bible and Henrietta Mears' classic book, What the Bible is All About, Lois Hagedorn will teach "The Holy Bible, Just the Basics" for 12 weeks at 9:30 a.m. Sundays in the church's conference room.
While an introduction to the course took place last weekend, the first lesson will begin Sunday and is open to anyone in the community who would like an overview of the Old Testament.
"It will appeal most to those with little or no knowledge of the Bible and to others who feel they need a refresher course to jog their memories," said Hagedorn, a retired freelance writer.
The Rev. Chet Okopski, pastor of the church, said he is excited about the class because it is based on Mears' work.
"Mears was a marvelous Sunday school teacher who headed the Sunday school of the Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, Calif.," Okopski said. "In her lifetime, she taught more pastors the Gospel than any other teacher in our denomination. Many of her students went into ministry in all kinds of various and sundry churches. Her book, upon which Lois is basing this course, is a fantastic introduction to the Bible from one who understood what the Bible was all about."
Paul and Belinda Miller are taking the class in hopes of better understanding the roots of their religion.
"I was brought up as a Baptist and really need a refresher on the stories of the Old Testament," Mrs. Miller said. "Paul has never really done any kind of study of the earlier books of the Bible, so this will be a new experience for him."
Those who attend the class can bring any version of the Bible with them.
"If they don't have one, we'll be discussing several of the easier-to-read Bible translations that are available today," Hagedorn said.
The course is designed to be simple and user-friendly, so no one will be embarrassed by having to answer questions.
"No written homework, no testing, no completion certificate," Hagedorn said. "Each week, a Bible reading assignment for the next week's discussion will be given, as well as a simple outline of what students will be reading."
The outline will give an overview of each week's lesson, so students need not be concerned if they don't have time to read the entire assignment, Hagedorn said.
For the class this Sunday, it will be helpful, but not necessary, for students to have read the book of Genesis. At the end of the class, they will receive materials and an assignment to read Exodus for Jan. 16.
"In order to cover all 39 books in the Old Testament in 12 weeks, Lesson 3 of this very basic overview will cover the next three books — Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy," Hagedorn explained.
Lesson 4 will cover Joshua and Judges; Lesson 5 will be about Ruth, 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel; Lesson 6 will be 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles; Lesson 7 will cover Ezra through Job; Lesson 8 will be Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon; Lesson 9 will cover the major prophets, Isaiah through Daniel; Lesson 10 will be the minor prophets, Hosea through Micah; and Lesson 11 will cover the remaining prophets, Nahum through Malachi.
"Lesson 12 will be a wrapup of what we've covered and a presentation of the 400 years of silence before the birth of Christ," Hagedorn said.
There will also be a discussion of what students have learned and what they plan to do next to keep their Christian faith growing, Hagedorn said.
"In each lesson, we will gain a basic knowledge of the contents of each book, why the book is important to our faith and how each book points toward the coming Messiah," Hagedorn said.
Hagedorn, 77, and her husband, Kent, have spent their winters in Spring Hill for the past eight years. They are affiliate members at Grace Presbyterian Church and have been active members and elders of Sparta Presbyterian Church in Sparta, N.J., for the past 40 years, serving in several areas of ministry.
After working with her New Jersey church to present a "Walk Thru the Bible" course in 1980, Hagedorn developed her own course, based on Mears' book.
Hagedorn said her pastor at Grace Presbyterian teaches more in-depth courses. She hopes her course will lay a foundation for further study for students. She is considering teaching a class on the New Testament when she returns next fall.
"My hope is that with this basic knowledge, participants will better understand the information when it is presented in a worship service and that they will consider relooking at their Bibles, spending quality time reading the Bible for its timeless lessons about mankind's relationship with God," Hagedorn said.
"I'm hoping that the members of this class will take away from it a new sense of confidence about reading and understanding the word," Okopski said. "This overview is from a spiritual perspective and will help students to understand the Bible as a whole, a complete story — not just a bunch of books put together as one."