Askewville group is well-‘versed’

Published 9:25 am Tuesday, May 26, 2009

ASKEWVILLE – Hard work and dedication are sometimes their own reward.

And – sometimes – there’s a larger reward.

The Junior Bible Quiz team of Askewville Assembly of God has been working diligently learning scripture and answers to Biblical questions since August. It paid off with the team winning the state championship in Junior Bible Quiz (JBQ).

While it isn’t the first time the church has ever won the state championship in Bible Quiz, it will mark their first appearance in the national championships which are slated for Rockford, Illinois in June.

“We have accomplished a feat that very few churches have accomplished,” said Askewville Assembly of God Pastor the Rev. R.O. Denton Jr. “As their pastor, I’m very proud of them because of all their hard work.”

According to information provided to the church, only three churches have won the state (or division) championship in the past 16 years with Askewville breaking that streak.

“I’m very happy to be their pastor and support them 110 percent,” Rev. Denton added.

The team was directed by Gloria Bryant, who directs Bible Quiz for the church, and by coach Frances Perry. Each of the leaders said they were cautiously optimistic as they headed into the state finals in Goldsboro.

“I didn’t want to be proud, but I had confidence we would do well and qualify for the regionals,” Bryant said. “I was not sure about winning the state.”

Perry said she felt much the same way.

“I felt confident if they were doing their best and could stay focused, we would do a good job and we did,” she said.

The group of four quizzers – Maggie Daniels, Alyssa Harden, Will Bazemore and Sarah Harrison – began working in August as they prepared for the Bible quiz season.

A state meet was held in October followed by several matches in Eastern North Carolina. The outcomes of those events led to the semifinals in Greensboro and the state finals in Goldsboro.

The four young people, who range in ages from nine to 12, each said they thought JBQ would be a good way to learn the Bible.

“It seemed like fun,” Harden said. “You also get to learn about God’s word. I have been in Bible Quiz for four years now.”

“I wanted to know more about God’s word and it would be a fun way to do it,” Harrison said.

After the preparations throughout the year, the state finals were days of nervousness and excitement, according to the quizzers.

“I thought it would be hard,” admitted Bazemore.

Daniels added, “I felt really nervous. I was excited we had made it that far, but I was almost scared. I had a bit of confidence too because I just knew our team could do it.”

As the scores were coming in, Bryant was waiting to find out how the team was doing. She said when she heard them running towards her, she knew they had won.

“I was ecstatic,” Bryant said. “I’ve had teams make the regionals, but never the nationals and I knew they were going so I was very excited.”

Perry said she was almost relieved.

“It was like you could take a deep breath,” she said. “It was joyful relief.”

The youngsters were just as pleased.

“I felt so happy that we had made it to regionals and nationals too,” Daniels said. “Our team had tried to make it for so many years and it was my last year.”

“I felt really good and excited because I knew we were going to both regionals and nationals,” Harden said. “We went all day at districts and only lost one match.”

Bazemore said he “felt very good” and Harrison said she was proud of herself and her team and very excited.

Though winning the state or district title was enough to send Askewville’s team to the national championship, they backed it up with a fourth-place finish in the regional competition held in Georgia. During that contest, churches from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Alabama quizzed and Askewville’s team finished fourth.

“When we went to regionals and finished in the top four, we cemented the fact we deserve to go to nationals,” Bryant said.

“We earned the right to go to nationals twice,” Perry added.

As they now prepare for the national’s the four quizzers admit to being excited and nervous again.

“I’m looking forward to the trip there,” Harrison said. “And I want to be in the top 10 at least in the nation.”

Bazemore said he was nervous about the flight, but looking forward to getting there.

“When we get there, I’ll be doing 10-point questions,” he said.

“I think it’s going to be a good experience going there and learning about God’s word,” Daniels said. “It will be good to meet new people and be able to visit another state and quiz on the Bible.”

Harden said she was excited as well.

“I cannot wait to go to nationals because you get to meet other people and quiz with them. It will also be pretty fun to get to ‘go’ to Illinois. It will be a 22-hour trip.”

Bazemore is the son of Doug and Judy Bazemore; Harden is the daughter of Vonda and Donald Harden; Harrison is the daughter of Anita and Anthony Harrison; and Daniels is the daughter of Rita M. and Chuck Daniels.

Junior Bible Quiz offers a fun way to motivate children to understand the Bible. Through cooperative learning, children work together on teams to learn and understand the questions and answers from the Bible Fact-Pak.

“I’ve coached basketball, baseball, football and volleyball,” Rev. Denton said. “Bible Quiz is the most intense program I’ve ever coached. Nothing has the pressure of Bible Quiz.”

While it is sponsored by the Assemblies of God, it is not limited to that denomination’s churches. Baptist congregations as well as those of the Church of God and Pentecostal Holiness compete.

Bryant said she was willing to work with any local congregation interested in getting started in JBQ. She can be reached by calling the church office at 794-4034.