Your Sunday school quarterly: God’s kingdom at work

MennoBytes for May 26, 2014 by Sharon K. Williams, editor for Adult Bible Studies and Estudios Bíblicos para Adultos (EBA), our Spanish translation.Sharon Williams in her office

Sharon K. Williams with her dog, a companion as she works from her home.

“Who chooses the Scripture passages and themes?” “Why don’t we just use the Standard Lesson quarterly/commentary, which is THE Uniform Series curriculum, right?”

People often ask about the origins of our Adult Bible Study (ABS) and Estudios Bíblicos para Adultos.

Every ABS/EBA study of is a marvelous example of God’s kingdom at work. Every year Christian editors, writers, and theologians of various denominations and publishers spend a week together, praying and discerning the future of Bible study for churches around the world. We are the Committee on the Uniform Series (CUS), celebrating 142 years of helping all ages study God’s Word with a connection—a plan to study the same biblical text on the same day. CUS is one of the ministries of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA.

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Adults studying the Bible in a small congregation, Williamsburg Mennonite Church, Va.

My CUS colleagues are amazing women and men of faith. Our diversity (ethnic, theological, educational, life experiences) is as strong as our unity—our commitment to serve Christ and his Church, and to respect “the Bible as the record of the revelation of God in Christ, as the major source of understanding the meaning of the Christian faith, and as the most effective means of confronting persons with the great concerns of the Gospel.”[1] We represent 20 denominations and 30 independent publishers (one in Puerto Rico and one in Nigeria). Many other publishers use the CUS outlines; the Bible studies are written or translated in many languages.

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Large Presbyterian congregations like this one in Charlotte, North Carolina also use their own version of the Uniform Series Bible Study series.

The scope of our work will surprise you. Right now some of us are developing a six-year study of the Bible for 2022–28, choosing the themes and Scripture texts. Another group is developing age level goals for each lesson, working in the 2019–20 year. Everyone is drafting the writers’ outlines for 2018–19. I chair the Home Daily Bible Readings committee, which is working with our consultant James Horsch (former editor of ABS) on devotional readings for 2018­–19.

When the annual “Guide for Lesson Development” and “Home Daily Bible Readings” are released, each publisher creates its own Bible study materials, shaping the theological interpretation for our churches. The Standard Lesson curriculum is Standard Publishing’s version. ABS and EBA are two of a small group of Anabaptist curricula.

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Emily Toews, writer for the Summer 2015 Adult Bible Study — already written and in production!

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The current summer 2014 Adult Bible Study guide.

It’s an awesome “God thing” when teachers and students discover that a lesson or quarter— conceived 10–15 years earlier—is “just what was needed.” God’s Word is alive and relevant! Join me in thanking God for the vision of the Committee on the Uniform Series—to unite Christians everywhere to grow in our faith through studying God’s Word together.

—Sharon K. Williams
Editor, Adult Bible Study and Estudios Bíblicos para Adultos
abseditor@mennomedia.org

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For more information and to order, head over to the MennoMedia store. ABSOnline and ABSReproducibles are found at www.MennoMedia.org/abs.​

[1] Handbook of Principles and Procedures, Committee on the Uniform Series, revised 2013, 17.

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