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Bible study group finds way to stay connected

FAIRMONT — Community means a little something different in the time of COVID-19. With government recommendations encouraging people to keep physical distance from each other, people are finding new was to connect.

Take, for instance, small church groups and Bible studies. Dr. Jeff Fordice is the teaching director for an evening community Bible study that has been running for six years going on seven. While normally people would be invited to gather and meet at Grace Lutheran Church in Fairmont, safety precautions now preclude it.

So Fordice has decided to move the CBS to a virtual format. He notes that doing so has been a challenge, but also rewarding.

“There have been some headaches,” he said. “I’m old enough that I’ve never tried to do something in a virtual format before, so I had to learn how to do that.

“CBS has a section where people go through questions. We’re studying the Book of John this year, so they would answer about four to five questions a day, so they’re prepared ahead of time before we meet virtually. So then they’ve had some time to think through it.

“Then, in a normal CBS, we have a 15-minute talk that kind of looks at the big picture, how you apply it, what are some illustrations from real life, and that kind of thing. So I had to learn how to videotape a talk, how to set up a YouTube channel, how to get a link to that channel out to people, learn how to use a Zoom meeting in a group format, and then how to be able to train all the leaders and get it so they’re comfortable with all this technology. So that’s a lot.”

With all that to learn, Fordice said the original start date has been delayed. CBS is now slated to begin Sept. 21. When asked about whether people will enjoy the new format, Fordice said he believes interest will stem from current social distancing recommendations.

“The truth is I think some people will enjoy this format better with COVID, so they don’t have to worry about getting infected,” he said. “Then there’s some people that will not like a virtual format because they would rather interact with people. I think we’re probably going to have a different group of people interested in this than normal, but I’m not able to predict the future.”

As far as the eventual end of virus restrictions, Fordice believes there might be room for the virtual format to stick around.

“I could see that maybe we would continue a group or two of people that might benefit from that,” he said. “One of the things that’s nice is there are some people who used to live in Fairmont who have moved away that I’ve invited to be part of it. I haven’t heard back from them yet, but in a virtual format we could have anybody in the world as a part of our group.”

Fordice says he enjoys CBS because people can learn in multiple ways.

“You actually do the study yourself so that you’re prepared, you hear somebody else’s answers, and then you have that 15-minute talk,” he said. “Then, the next day after the meeting, in your book, you have about a two- to five-page commentary about the passage that you’re studying.”

Those interested in learning more about the Community Bible Study can check out the website at fairmonteve.cbsclass.org

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