A national "Bible Bee" contest will be held for the first time next year and will distribute more than $260,000 in prize money with $100,000 being awarded to the first-place winner of the top age bracket.
Sponsored by the Shelby Kennedy Foundation, the first annual National Bible Bee will encourage Bible memorization for children and youth from 7 to 18 years of age. Local Bible Bee Contests will be conducted throughout the United States on Saturday, September 12, 2009, followed by the national level competition two months later.
"We are excited to introduce our first annual National Bible Bee," the Shelby Kennedy Foundation stated in a public announcement. "[T]he goal of the Bible Bee is to build godly character in young people by calling them back to the lost discipline of Scripture memorization."
The idea for the Bible Bee is based on the Scripps National Spelling Bee, where youth compete annually in the nation's longest-running educational contest.
"While it is certainly beneficial for our children to commit the spelling of words to memory, imagine how much more life-changing it would be for them to memorize the Word of God," exclaimed the Shelby Kennedy Foundation.
The nonprofit ministry sponsoring the competition drew its inspiration from Shelby Kennedy, a young Christian woman who died more than three years ago after an intense struggle with cancer.
Kennedy was described as a "one-in-a-million Christian who had an unusual spiritual gift of faith – a special person who radiated joy, life and hope to everyone she met," the foundation reported.
According to the ministry, much of what kept Kennedy's joy alive in last days was time spent studying the Word of God.
"Shelby's testimony sparked an incredible vision – to launch a world-class Bible Bee," exclaimed the foundation, which was established after Kennedy's death in May 2005 to encourage children and youth to grow in Christ through Scripture memorization. Next year, local Bible Bee contests conducted throughout the United States will culminate with a two-day world-class competition in Washington that will draw one hundred finalists from each of three age categories.
The National Bible Bee will be held Nov. 5-6, 2009, and features both written and oral tests. All contestants will be tested in their knowledge of Bible memory passages and Bible knowledge facts.
On the Web: biblebee.org