It is part trivia contest and a lot of memorizing with an action-packed competition featuring contestants jumping to answer the questions.
For a group of dedicated group of local teens, Saturday morning is the culmination of a week’s work of studying the Bible and hiding away its contents in their minds for recall in competition.
Fourteen teens from Anchorage and Eagle River participated in the second Bible Quizzing Tournament of this year sponsored on Nov. 5 at Skyline Family Fellowship in Eagle River.
Bible Quizzing, under the Free Methodist West Coast Region; however, is still very new to Alaska, with this being the second year. Alaska started quizzing in 2015, when two families who experienced quizzing in the lower 48 on two different coasts moved to “The Last Frontier” within weeks of each other. The Herzog and Foster families didn’t have any trouble finding students with a competitive streak and desire to study the Bible; the two combined to produce a very successful first year. The Young Teen Veteran team finished fifth in the National Tournament held at Seattle Pacific University; Mairyn Foster, a 2015 Alaska rookie finished top 5 in the nation for Young Teen Rookie division.
Bible Quizzing is a team event as well as an individual competition. Teams of two to five students ranging in grades 4 through 12 study books of the New Testament as outlined in a pre-determined rotation. This season, the quizzers are working from the five Epistles of Paul: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon. Each month the quizzers study three new chapters adding on to the previous months’ material.
Claire Moreland, a sixth grader who lives in Eagle River, had this to say about quizzing, “Quizzing is a great way to study with friends and family. I am studying and memorizing parts of the Bible I usually wouldn’t.”
Claire finished 1st in the Alpha Casual division in October and 2nd in November; her 2nd place finish was the result of an intense overtime duel with Alaina Foster.
Unlike Jeopardy, Bible quizzing engages the full body and quick reflexes to jump for an opportunity to answer the questions. Quizzers sit on electronically activated seat pads that signal the Quizmaster of the order in which they jumped. Jumping is as vital to a quizzer as elusiveness is to a running back in football. Without a strong jumping technique, the quizzer never has an opportunity to answer the question.
“I work hard to memorize the material and then focus on jumping fast without pre-jumping,” said Alaina Foster an Anchorage 5th grader who finished first place in both team and individual competition.
Not all Quizzers choose to memorize, Tyler Stonerook, and Mariah Sallee have a different approach to studying. Tyler reviews sample questions – every month there is study questions for the material by which Quizzers can learn the information in the form of a potential question. Mariah reads the scripture portion and then calls Alaina to go over the material. For every Quizzer, it is different; however, the important thing is that the word of God is planted like a seed in the Quizzer’s heart to be useful as they grow up in a world that is often full of hate and divisiveness.
“I have been quizzing for three years and I’ve never done the memorization, but I still have fun at the tournaments,” said Tyler. As a rookie at Nationals in Spring Arbor, Michigan, Tyler made it all the way to the quarterfinal round of 24 Quizzers.
“Quizzing is different than your weekly youth group or Bible study, we come together to deliberately study a portion of the Bible for the purpose of competition; however, we also place a focus on understanding the context and meaning of the scripture without a denominational spin. We strictly use scripture as the truth so that individuals of all denominations, and even some without a church or religious affiliation can find a place here,” Jeff Herzog, the Alaska Last Frontier Bible Quizzing leader, said.
Jeff’s wife, Deborah, was an assistant coach in New Brighton, Pa., and the coach for the Alaska Quizzers last year before deploying this year as an active duty U.S. Army officer. Jeff, a native of the South Anchorage area, escorted the team to Alaska where it was announced, for the first time in the history of Free Methodist Bible Quizzing, that the State of Alaska was represented.
“The ministry is small right now, essentially two churches; however, there is room and a desire to grow. I approached a few churches this past summer, and have to admit, it hasn’t been as easy to convince as I would’ve thought,” Herzog said. “At this point, instead of looking for church teams, I am looking for interested competitors and families to add to our existing ministry. Watching these students compete is like watching a cross between the Super Bowl and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”
Bible quizzing does not require a church endorsement; however, Skyline Family Fellowship in Eagle River supports this ministry with personnel, financial support, and a facility where quizzers can practice and compete.
The quizzers fundraise to raise travel money. They will travel to Seattle for the West Coast Regional Tournament in April before traveling to Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, New York to compete at this year’s nationals.
Any students interested in finding out more information about Bible Quizzing should contact Jeff Herzog through Skyline at email@example.com or call (907)- 694- 4663.
Results of the Sat., November 5 Tournament based on Galatians Chapters 4-6:
Alpha Casual Individuals: Alaina Foster, first; Claire Moreland, second; and Liam Bartchlett, third.
Alpha Competitive Individuals: Maycie Foster, first; Mairyn Foster, second; and Andrew Stonerook, third.
Alpha Team Division: Alaina Foster and Mairyn Foster, first; Liam Bartchlett, Micah Sallee and Andrew Stonerook, second; and Toby Bartchlett, Maycie Foster and Josh Saylor, third.
Editor’s Note: Andrew Stonerook is a sophomore at Chugiak High School and an editorial intern with The ECHO News.