CEDAR CITY – A new Bible class is being offered to students who attend Cedar and Canyon View High Schools in Cedar City in like manner to the traditional seminary class offered to Utah students by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is the first-of-its-kind alternative in the state for those who are not of the LDS faith.
Over 30 people attended a community awareness meeting Friday night at the site of the new Cedar Bible Institute.
The institute started out as the idea of a Bible club at the school, but quickly evolved into a first-period class every other day.
In December 2013, Melissa Bantum, a Cedar High School English teacher, and Natasha Tebbs, a Cedar High School counselor, were approached by students asking to start a Bible club at the school. That discussion quickly developed into having a class off campus during a release time period, similar to the seminary classes offered by LDS church.
The LDS church introduced the first off-campus seminary classes in 1912 in a building adjacent to Granite High School in Salt Lake City, according to a January 2012 article published by the Mormon Newsroom.
In LDS seminaries during release time, students study the Old and New Testaments, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and LDS church.
Based on her research, the newly formed Cedar Bible Institute appears to be the first of its kind in Utah that is not sponsored by the LDS church, Tebbs said.
Tebbs approached school administrators with the idea in mid-December, and was immediately given the green light to start a nondenominational Christian Bible class during first-period classes every other day on what the school refers to as “A days.”
Students Hanan Pruitt, 16, a junior, and Kole Dotson, 18, a senior, were instrumental in promoting the class and informing other students that it was going to start.
“Everything seemed to sprout out of thin air. It was a miracle of God,” Dotson said, referring to how quickly everything came together.
Two weeks before winter break 2013, school administrators asked Melissa Bantum and Tebbs if they could have the class ready to start at the beginning of the new semester. After that, things started moving fast and falling into place.
“From the beginning to now, God has opened doors for us,” Bantum said.
Melissa Bantum and Tebbs met with four area pastors to see what role they would like to play in the new Bible institute.
Pastor Michael Cooper of Sonrise Church, Pastor Randy Bond of Red Hill Southern Baptist Church, “Pastor Joe” from Calvary Chapel Cedar City, and Pastor Jerry Van Iwaarden of Westview Christian Center agreed to teach at the institute, rotating on a weekly basis.
Melissa Bantum and Tebbs then started looking for a place to meet. Parents offered to open their homes near the school, which was a good possibility, but soon a building opened up near the school’s soccer field that filled the need.
Local author and retired educator Tom Jackson attends each class. Since the pastors are there once every four weeks, Jackson is the familiar face the students see each day.
Rob Bantum, Melissa Bantum’s husband, also plays a key role in providing the students with continuity.
When classes started in January, organizers hoped to see at least four to five students. But as news of the new Bible class quickly spread, it has grown to 21 current enrollees, and includes students from Canyon View High School as well.
Student Anna Niznik, 15, a ninth grader, found out about the Bible institute through her pastor.
“It was so heartwarming because we were praying for God to make a move like this,” Niznik said. “I like the fact that the pastors teach from the Bible, God’s word.”
Pruitt said that for the first few weeks of class they have been learning about the history of the Bible, how to know the Bible is true, how the English version of the Bible came into being and why there are so many versions of the Bible.
Organizers are creating a four-year curriculum to be in place by the fall semester of this year. This curriculum will enable freshman students to have four years of Bible instruction by the time they graduate from high school.
The Bible Institute has been well received by parents and community members alike. Community member Gen Phelps learned of Friday night’s meeting while volunteering at the Loaves & Fishes, a community soup kitchen.
“I think it’s a fabulous idea. It’s wonderful that kids have an outlet to ask questions, and it’s great that there are different pastors to provide a variety of insight,” Phelps said.
Those interested in the Cedar City Bible Institute are encouraged to contact its organizers via the institute’s website and Facebook provided below.
- Sign-ups needed, bring ‘God is not Dead’ movie to St. George
- Utah Boy Scouts; statement on new membership standards
- Give the gift of education; Washington County School District Foundation
Email: [email protected]
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.