In the nursery, a group of toddlers play purposely with chunky, plastic sheep and colorful, plastic fence pieces. On the floor in another room, preschoolers count fuzzy sheep and play a hide-and-seek game with a cloth one.
The lesson for the day? The parable of the “Lost Sheep” from the book of Luke.
Just down the hall and around the corner, their moms hear Johnnie Ellis, associate teaching director, refer to Jesus as the shepherd and add, “If we are to be conformed to the image of Christ, we must grow in his grace and knowledge.”
And growing in knowledge is exactly what these children and ladies are doing.
Every Wednesday morning, close to 150 women of varying denominations gather under the roof of Statesboro Primitive Baptist Church to study the Bible.
Community Bible Study, known as CBS to regular attendees, begins at 9:30 with worship, continues with small core group discussions, and culminates with a lecture pertaining to the lesson. All are welcome to attend the group.
“With homework assignments that have us reading and writing scripture daily, group discussions, and a lecture review, by the time we finish the week, we are very familiar with that Bible passage,” said Emily Fennell, teaching director for the Bible Study group
The current study is the New Testament book of Hebrews.
“CBS is an international, interdenominational, in-depth Bible study,” said area director Irene Sheridan. “We focus on things that bring us together, not diversify us. We don’t discuss individual church doctrines.”
More than 27churches in the Bulloch County area are represented by those attending.
Cecile Boulineau said that’s one of the reasons she joined CBS.
“When I retired, I wanted to join a fellowship of other Christian women outside my own church,” she said. “It’s been a great blessing to study the Bible and to learn how a Christian should strive to live.”
Martha Grindler, third year member, looks forward to the fellowship at CBS each week.
“I like meeting new people, women in particular, who have the same Christian ethical values I have,” she said. “The social benefit is an added bonus.”
Grindler said about worshiping with other believers from across the community, “It’s like a little slice of heaven, right here in Statesboro!”
And, she can’t help but enjoy learning more about scripture.
“On Jeopardy, when the category is about Biblical Studies, my ears perk up!”
While moms and grandmoms learn and study, little ones get fed spiritually, too.
Martha Ray, one of the “Helping Hands” team members, checks children in and helps with care and teaching.
“The lessons are structured, but there’s much opportunity to be creative,” she said.
Jennifer Starling, Helping Hands preschool teacher, said that even though her children are older and no longer in the program, they still remember verses they learned during their time at CBS.
Faith Doubleday, mother of four children under the age of six, says that she has grown from her studies and has learned how to be a better mother, wife, and person. But she speaks with even more excitement when referring to her kids’ time at CBS.
“All of my children attend CBS on Wednesday. I love this bible study because they start teaching the children scripture before a lot of them even know how to speak,” she said. “One of the reasons I decided to homeschool my kids was so that my oldest could still attend CBS with me.”
With two years of attending CBS, Juanita Allen said she’s possibly only missed one class since joining.
“I am always energized and excited to be part of each class session! CBS means a great deal to me physically, emotionally, socially, and most of all, spiritually.
“After a morning at CBS, I am invigorated and ready to face whatever negative situation comes my way. And, I feel that I can be the light that God can use to show others the way to Him,” Allen says.
Women from all walks of life convene once a week - young, older, and oldest; retired, working inside and outside the home; more than two dozens’ worth of church affiliations; a rainbow of skin shades; and a broad spectrum of spiritual maturity –rejoicing in experiences that bind them as one body of believers.