For 55 years, men in Clovis have met outside of church to study the Bible

Don Reid studies from Hebrews chapter 11 Thursday as he prepares his lesson for the Clovis men’s Bible class Sunday. Reid’s lesson will be titled “How big was Abraham’s faith?”

By Tova Fruchtman: CNJ Staff writer

In 1949, I.D. Johnson, Ed Dillon, Lloyd Potter and Tom Seery decided the weekly Bible study in their homes wasn’t doing enough for the community.

Darrell Bud Johnson, I.D.’s son, said the group decided to start an informal Sunday school class. Their mission was to draw men who did not attend a church Sunday school of their own. The class was non-denominational. They met at the old Clovis High School library, which is now the Clovis-Carver Public Library. They served donuts and coffee.

R. Gene Walker, remembers attending the class in its begining months with his father. Walker was in high school then at Clovis High School.

Within a month the class had about 70 members, said Walker, now 71 years old.

Six decades later, the founders have died, but Darrell Bud Johnson attends the class his father taught for 24 years.
Johnson and Walker attend the weekly class that now meets at the Allen Theaters at High Plains Mall. They still serve donuts and coffee and the founders’ goals have been realized — more than 50 men attend the weekly event from 9:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. Sundays.

“I feel blessed in that I have an opportunity to contribute to it in providing a place for us to meet and worship,” said Abby Parrish, manager of Allen Theaters who’s been attending the classes since 1980.

“It’s a great community,” Parrish said, “… no pressure, no sermons. It’s just an opportunity to sit down and understand what the Bible says.”

Bill Kenyon began attending the class with friends in the 1950s. He said he loves going.

“It’s relaxed, it doesn’t last very long, and it’s teaching from the Bible,” Kenyon said.

The class is set up in a lecture format. A teacher talks for about 20 minutes each time. The rest of the time is spent in friendly conversation.

Kenyon said he likes that he doesn’t get asked questions or have to participate in a discussion.

“You just listen and learn something, every Sunday,” he said.
Four months ago, Don Reid took on the unpaid job as teacher.

“There is an awesome responsibility that comes from teaching this class,” said Reid, who describes himself as a man of faith but declines to reveal any church affiliation.

“There is a responsibility to be as Biblically correct as you can be. Not all the things we talk about are pleasant, but they are all true.”

Reid said he tries to teach about faith and how faith can be applied to everyday life.

“If you’re not going to use it, it doesn’t do any good to know it,” he said.

Last week, Reid said he drew a parallel between the events that put Hitler into power and the events related to the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

“This past lesson was very good,” said Parrish. He said Reid’s message was “ with faith … we need to support our leaders and stop evil in the world.”

Kenyon said all of the class’ teachers have been great, and that he really appreciates the work Reid is doing.

“It’s obvious he really works hard and prepares,” Kenyon said.
Reid said he spends eight to 10 hours a week preparing his 20-minute lecture. He talks to a variety of theologians around the country, reads different versions of the Bible, gets interpretations from a Jewish friend and spends a lot of time on the Internet.

He said he has to be a student to teach the class and his desire to learn helps him to be a good teacher. He said he’s received positive feedback from many of those who attend.

Who can attend? Anyone that wants to show up. Any man, that is. Women are invited once in a while, Kenyon said.

“It’s really a Christian men’s Bible class, but anyone is welcome,” said Walker explaining that sometimes men bring thier daughters and Jewish people have attended in the past.
The welcoming and friendly attitude is what keeps people coming back, Walker said.

“They can have coffee and donuts and visit with people,” he said. Most of the men have known each other for many years, and as the class has aged so have the members, most are over 50.

“ A lot of us are getting old,” Kenyon said. “ We like getting the young guys.”
Walker said becoming a member of the class is easy. The first time a person attends they are a vistor, the second time, they become a member.