by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — What’s the next best thing to going to a Bible study at your parish?
It’s having your Bible study come to you.
Ascension (formerly known as Ascension Press), has adapted its “The Great Adventure” Catholic Bible studies series so it can be done by individuals or groups, in-person or online, or even through a combination of in-person and online.
It has the flexibility individuals and parishes need during this uncertain time when there is a need to get creative to work around pandemic restrictions.
The latest in Ascension’s 19-installment series is “Hebrews: The New and Eternal Covenant,” a study of the New Testament Letter to the Hebrews, authored by Andrew Swafford, associate professor of theology at Benedictine College in Atchison.
The goal is not just learning, but falling in love with Jesus, being formed and becoming a disciple.
“[Its purpose] is to inform, inspire and challenge,” said Swafford. “Yes, we want to get into the text and learn, but it’s not just school. It’s also about transformation.”
The “Hebrews” study program, which has a video component that can be viewed in-person with DVDs or online, features Swafford and Jeff Cavins, a Catholic evangelist, author, biblical scholar and creator of “The Bible Timeline.”
“Hebrews” offers an eight-week program that takes students through a guided tour of the epistle. Students — individually or as a group — read and fill out the workbook, view the videos (on DVD or online) and hold group discussions.
The Ascension Bible study programs are designed to be flexible, said Lauren Joyce, communications specialist for Ascension.
With the “digital option,” each participant buys the workbook for $26.99 and receives free, one-year access to the online streaming study videos. (After the first year, individuals can purchase another year of online video access for $10.) Group discussions can be done via videoconferencing like Zoom. Ascension’s partner platform for video streaming is “Thinkific,” an online class portal.
Some parishes may begin by using the more “traditional” in-person, classroom approach, said Joyce. In this case, a parish will purchase the “Hebrews” DVDs for $99.95 and show them in an in-person class, with discussion. If, for some reason, the in-person Bible study can’t continue, the teacher can shift the class to the “digital option” without interruption.
Swafford is excited about this Bible study.
“In a powerful way, the [Letter to the] Hebrews gives us the Catholic faith in its very beginnings,” said Swafford. “It helps us to see that the new covenant is not just a text, it’s living covenant family reality — especially a liturgical reality. With Hebrews, we get to go back in time, and we get to talk with and be with the first generation of Christians. We get to hear their struggles and hear their living faith.”
Ascension has several other online, digital study programs. For information about the Bible studies and more, visit the Ascension website at: ascensionpress.com.