Students showcase knowledge at state Bible drills
May 21, 2014
Florida Baptist Witness

FINALS Thirteen students line the stage of First Baptist Church’s Family Life Center in Mt. Dora for the finals of the Youth Bible Drill. Photo by Carolyn Nichols
The recent state Bible Drills and Speakers’ Tournament 2014 finals included students from Pensacola to Miami, and were the culmination of dozens of church and associational events held during March and April.

The Bible Drills required memorization of dozens of Scripture verses and Biblical doctrines. Children drillers have 10 seconds to locate a Bible passage, and youth participants must do it in 8 seconds.

The Locating Book section of the drill included a call for the Book of Joel. One of the students who had stepped forward upon finding the book had to say the book called and the books surrounding it: Hosea, Joel, Amos. Students also had to find Scripture verses and key passages, such as “The Christian’s Armor.” 

In two sections of the drill, drillers were asked to find verses, close their Bibles and quote the verse from memory. The teens quickly stepped forward to quote verses describing the steps to salvation and Bible doctrines. One doctrinal verse answered the question, “What does the Bible say about family commitment?” (The answer was found in Ruth 1:16-17.)

First Baptist Church in Mt. Dora hosted the standing-room-only crowd for competing students in seventh through 12th grade on April 12. 

Children’s Bible Drill finals were held at Baptist College of Florida in Graceville on April 5.

Family and friends, who for months had helped the children finesse their Bible skills, had to keep silent during drills. But in both the Mt. Dora events and those in Graceville, the rooms erupted in cheers and applause after the final call.

PRACTICE Sara Lemire readies her daughter, Katie, left, and fellow team member Cassie Graham for the children’s drill. They are from First Baptist Church in Polk City. Photo by Carolyn Nichols
Elizabeth Guy, a member of First Baptist Church in Mt. Dora, was the winner of the High School Bible Drill, and Bethany Wilson, from First Baptist Church in Polk City, was runner-up. Guy will represent Florida in the National Invitational Tournament in Helen, Ga., in June.

She said she will be “living up to her brothers’ legacy” as she attends nationals for the fourth time. Her brother Matthew represented the state in youth and high school drills, and another brother, Joshua, also won the high school drill. The family uses Bible Drills as part of its home school curriculum.

Eight high school students participated in the Speakers Tournament, writing and delivering 4-6 minute speeches before judges and a room full of supporters. Zachary Jones, an 11th grader from Fruit Cove Baptist Church in Jacksonville, took top honors with his speech, “What is Truth?” He explored the effects of post-modern thought on the church, asking, “Is there an absolute truth, or is it only applicable to you?”

Jones thanked his coaches, Bob and Jackie Kulpa, and Zambian pastor Conrad MBewe for their influence and encouragement in “taking opportunities to speak for God’s glory.”

Benjamin Sloan, a 10th grade student from Murdock Baptist Church in Port Charlotte, was runner-up with his speech, “The Plague of Inaction.”

Because of a tie in semi-final Youth Bible Drills, 13 middle school students showcased their skills in the state final. Jeffrey Gagliardo from Murdock Baptist Church was the winner, and Noah Needles from Immanuel Baptist Church in Pace was runner-up.

Children Bible drillers with perfect, or near perfect, scores were invited to participate in a Super Drill in both state final locations. Fifteen advanced to Super Drill at Baptist College of Florida, and 21 achieved the honor in Mt. Dora. To mark the occasion, Super Drill participants received medallions with the Bible Drill theme, “Book 66.” 

Doug Miller, coach of the youth team from Immanuel Baptist Church in Pace, called the youth drills. He began a long history of Bible Drill participation as a child in 1984. His oldest child, Avery, was in her first year of Bible Drills at Immanuel Baptist this year.

“I’ve really had 30 years of learning verses, because I went from being in Bible Drills to working with youth on their Bible Drills. Now, when I’m working with Avery, I think, ‘I remember this verse,’ ” he said. “It is so important to teach our children Scripture when they are bombarded with 2014 culture. They may not know it now, but they will need the verses later. That’s why I shove Bible verses into them.”

WINNERS Six teenagers took top honors during the finals of the Bible Drills and Speakers’ Tournament April 12 at First Baptist Church in Mt. Dora: (back row, from left) Elizabeth Guy, winner, High School Bible Drill; Bethany Wilson, runner-up, High School Bible Drill; Noah Needles, runner-up, Youth Bible Drill; (front row) Jeffrey Gagliardo, winner, Youth Bible Drill; Zachary Jones, winner, Speakers’ Tournament; and Ben Sloan, runner-up Speakers’ Tournament. Photo by Carolyn Nichols
A young Miller began Bible Drills the same year that Gary Nichols began leading Bible Drills with Bill Carmichael when the men made up the Church Training Department of the Florida Baptist Convention. Nichols worked with Bible Drills 27 years while a part of the Convention staff. As minister of education at First Baptist Church in Milton, he continues his work with Bible Drills as a volunteer.

“I had participated in ‘Sword Drills’ and then led Bible Drills as an associational discipleship leader, and State Bible Drills and Speakers’ Tournament became my favorite convention assignment,” Nichols said. “I was thrilled when volunteers from around the state asked me to help keep drills going in our state.”

As an all-volunteer effort, the events have no budget, and no one is paid or reimbursed, he said. Parents are asked to judge drills and the Speakers’ Tournament, and to serve as timekeepers.

“These folks do it because of their passion for the Word of God and because they love children and youth,” he said.

Along with Nichols, a team of Bible Drill supporters manage the state events: Robin Cook, Bible Drill coach at Immanuel Baptist Church in Pace; Karen Claunch, children’s ministry director at St. Andrew Baptist Church in Panama City; Jason Bennett, youth pastor of First Baptist Church in 

Wewahitchka; Elaine Gillis, children’s ministry director at First Baptist Church in Milton; Deana Majors, Bible Drill coach at First Baptist Church in DeFuniak Springs; and Greg McBride, pastor of Bellview Baptist Church in Pensacola.

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