The Bible has always been a central part of the life of Anglicanism. Indeed, it was the Anglican tradition which contributed to the rest of Christendom the King James Version of the Bible, which today remains sacrosanct for many denominational traditions, and for whom no change in its language or contribution from archaeological and biblical scholarship can be accommodated. Additionally, Anglican liturgy is rooted in Scripture and is utilized in almost unparalleled fashion in its liturgies and worship services.
Sadly, many Anglicans are not given to the same penchant in their study of Scripture, whether in personal or communal ways. In many congregations within the diocese, as may be true for others, Bible Study gatherings are attended by only the faithful few who display a positive level of commitment to this aspect of their growth and understanding of the faith. Within the tradition of Christian spirituality there is a discipline called study which has at its center and imperative the study of Scripture, the writings and biographies of the authors of the spiritual classics, and the study and attention to the world of nature as a channel of God’s revelation. The exercise of this discipline is one which is basic to the exercise of Christian discipleship in a deepening and mature fashion.
The Anglican Consultative Council, one of the four Instruments of the Anglican Communion, passed Resolution 16:01 at its in meeting held in Lusaka, Zambia, between 8-19 April 2016, calling on all Anglicans to become involved in a season of intentional discipleship. The Communion-wide Call is stated thus: “For every province, diocese and parish in the Anglican Communion to adopt a clear focus on intentional discipleship and to produce resources to equip and enable the whole church to be effective in making new disciples of Jesus Christ”.
This Bible Study Guide is a direct response to that call and has been written by a team of committed Anglicans, inclusive of ordained and lay persons, under the oversight of the Suffragan Bishop of Kingston, the Rt. Rev. Robert Thompson. It lends itself to a wide readership and use by individuals and Bible Study groups, and it is our hope that it will be used extensively across the diocese.
The prevailing milieu in many congregations is that of a preoccupation with declining membership and institutional demands for maintenance of systems and structures. The season of intentional discipleship calls us back to a focus on our baptismal covenant and what it means to be disciples of Jesus Christ in every sphere of life. It is first of all a call to a sense of consciousness regarding our identity in Christ, to grow in our relationship with Christ, to allow the living Christ to shape our lives, and to bear witness to our faith in word and action in the family, in the workplace, in the community, and of course, within the fellowship of the Church. Faithful exercise of discipleship in this mode will lead others to Christ and to a living, growing and vibrant Church. This Bible Study series is one way in which to embark on the path of intentional discipleship.
I commend this Bible Study series to the faithful of the Diocese and all who are seeking to discern and pursue a path of intentional discipleship.
Diocesan Bishop of Jamaica & The Cayman Islands