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New Day AG Claims National Teen Bible Quiz Title

Seeded fourth in the championship semifinals, New Day Assembly of God of Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania, pulled off two upsets to win its first national Teen Bible Quiz championship.

After upsetting top-seeded and three-time defending Bible Quiz national champion James River Church of Ozark, Missouri, in the semifinals, New Day Assembly of God of Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania, downed Maple Lane AG of Deposit, New York, 150-85, to win the 2016 National Teen Bible Quiz championship held July 2-9 at Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri.

New Day AG, which placed fifth last year and has made it to nationals the past three years, was seeded fourth in the championship semifinals, even though all four teams had identical 16-3 records. Bernie Elliot, director of Bible Quiz, explains that the seedings were based on head-to-head competition that took place throughout the week.

In the semifinals, New Day defeated James River’s "Driving You Insane" team, 155-120, and Maple Lane downed the "Savage Northwest SIRS" team from Cedar Park Church of Bothell, Washington, 100-80. James River then defeated Cedar Park 175-75 to take third.

The quizzers on New Day’s championship team were Jonathan Brown, Joseph Lemley, and Josh Fuller. The team was coached by David Lemley, assisted by Rich Brown.

The National Finals began with 40 teams divided into five groups. The top four teams in each group advanced to the Championship Division to contend for the national title, while the rest were placed in the Challenger Division. Both divisions then quizzed in 19 rounds over 2 ½ days to determine the finalists in both divisions. More than 150 quizzers, grades 6-12, took part in the national tournament as this year they were quizzed over their knowledge of the Book of Acts — more than 1,000 verses!

In the Challenger Division, Bethany Church of Wyckoff, New Jersey, edged Cedar Park's "That's Debatable" team 105-100 in a one-game playoff for the Challenger title.

New Day Coach David Lemley says his team really focused after losing to Maple Lane earlier this year in regional competition. “At regionals, we were tied with Maple Lane and then they crushed us, 170-110,” Lemley says. “The team was really upset at the loss, but realized they hadn’t worked hard enough.”

Winning a national title is exhilarating, Lemley says, but Bible Quiz has also deeply impacted the students on his team. “There has been a major change in their understanding of the Bible — what it means to their life and how they relate to things going on now in the world,” Lemley says. “Bible Quiz has also taught them a strong lesson as far as work ethic and discipline are concerned, which is reflected in other areas of their lives as well.”

Although Elliot greatly admires the accomplishments of those competing at nationals, what really greatly encourages him are the increasing number of students earning Discipleship Awards, National Memorization Awards, and those who have earned a Master Memorization award.

The National Memorization award was presented to 119 students this year who memorized the entire Book of Acts and quoted each chapter with four mistakes or less. The Master Memorization was granted to just 14 students as it requires being able to recite the entire Book of Acts, in one sitting, in 90 minutes or less and with a total of 10 mistakes or less. “It’s hard to even read the Book of Acts in 90 minutes without messing up words,” Elliot says in admiration.

However, two new components of Bible Quiz really has Elliot energized. “We had 68 students receive the Discipleship Award this year. This requires students, in addition to participating in Bible Quiz, to read selected books, be active in their church, be tithers, do a service project, and other requirements all of which help students learn to be doers of God’s Word. Also, this was our second year for the Bible Quiz Experience Division, designed for beginners. We had an incredible 188 teams participating across the nation learning God’s Word representing hundred of additional students who are now actively memorizing the Bible!

“We are dripping with young people in the Assemblies of God who know the Word of God and are powerful Christ followers,” Elliot says.

According to Elliot, the 2016-17 Bible Quiz season will cover the books of Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon — about half the number of verses of Acts.

During nationals week, numerous Bible Quiz college scholarships were also awarded: The top three finishing teams received team scholarships of $2,500, $1,500 and $500, respectively.

Jonathan Brown, who led New Day AG, was name Male Quizzer of the Year ($1,000 scholarship) and Halle Reisinger of Newport (Pennsylvania) AG was named Female Quizzer of the Year ($1,000 scholarship).

“The quizzer of the year awards are based on a 11-category point system,” Elliot says. “This year’s selections were incredibly tight as only a few points separated the top qualifiers.”

Reisinger received an additional $1,000 scholarship, Brown a $750 scholarship, and Julie Rodriquez, Community Church, Mt. Pocono, Pennsylvania, received a $500 scholarship for their respective 1-2-3 scoring performance during the tournament week.

Abigail Peterson, Tacoma (Washington) Life Center won a $1,000 AG Scholarship and the $1,000 Mark Gilmer Scholarship; Shannon Wolfe, Victorious Life Church, Wesley, Chapel, Florida, won the $2,000 Hollis Kelley Scholarship and a $1,000 AG Scholarship; and Spencer Wilhelm, Bethel Assembly, Rapid City, South Dakota, won a $1,000 AG Scholarship.

Zak Kellock, of North Valley Assembly, Phoenix, Arizona, won the Quizzing Bee (similar to a spelling bee, only participants need to quote verses from the Book of Acts) and a $500 scholarship. Sheldon Powell of Calvary Church, Naperville, Illinois, was second ($250 scholarship) and Leisl Jansen of James River Church third ($100 scholarship).

Dan Van Veen

Dan Van Veen is news editor of AG News. Prior to transitioning to AG News in 2001, Van Veen served as managing editor of AG U.S. Missions American Horizon magazine for five years. He attends Central Assembly of God in Springfield, Missouri, where he and his wife, Lori, teach preschool Sunday School and 4- and 5-year-old Rainbows boys and girls on Wednesdays.