This Isn’t Your Typical Sunday School Lesson

SES Real Stories #12

At 48 years old, Nora went to seminary. Her kids were grown, and she and her husband Duke had been teaching Sunday school for nearly 20 years.

But a lot of the high schoolers they taught went off to college and stopped going to church.

Nora taught drawing and painting and worked with English as a Second Language students. Duke was a store manager for Belk. They moved from south Georgia to Charlotte to attend SES and really dig deep into apologetics.

“We sold our house, moved into an apartment and went to seminary,” Nora said. “My picture of God just got so much bigger. I had never been introduced to these big ideas, like the attributes of God.”

Nora earned her master’s in religion, while Duke got his in church ministry. Both pursued a concentration in apologetics.

After graduating, the couple spent seven years as deans of students and continued auditing classes. They soaked up nearly every campus Bible study and debate.

They heard from critics of Christianity like Christopher Hitchens and Bart Ehrman. They learned from Christian thinkers, speakers and authors like John Lennox, Chuck Colson and Kay Arthur, even early on in SES’ formation.

“These are giants of the faith, and they’re coming to this little seminary,” Nora said. “Why? They know that there’s something about defending the faith that makes SES special. That is our main focus.”

Nora particularly enjoyed studying under professor Tom Howe.

“He just made the Old Testament so real to me,” she said. She describes sitting in his class a few hours each week “like eating an ice cream sundae. It’s just too good.”

Over the years, Nora has spoken at numerous conferences, including SES’ own National Conference on Christian Apologetics, as well as multiple college campuses around Georgia. She and Duke moved back there several years ago.

She’s covered topics like sexuality, transgenderism and the treatment of women in the Bible. She’s also found in the process that many youth pastors are “threatened by apologetics.” They may be used to giving “church answers” and entertaining kids when many young people are looking for more than “guitar and pizza,” Nora said.

Beyond speaking engagements, the main way Nora uses her SES education is through everyday conversations. It could be parents concerned for their gay or lesbian child, a Q&A with her grandkids in the car or an engineer she met at the YMCA who wonders what will happen the minute he dies.

“I think what he’s looking for is not ‘Jesus loves me, this I know.’ I think he’s looking for a more theological, logical answer,” Nora said. “SES gives me more courage to attempt those answers for him.”

Even her oldest grandkids ask deep questions, like how God can be three in one, or whether God created energy and atoms.

She and Duke get frequent phone calls from their circle of friends asking where they found a certain answer in the Bible.

“It’s because SES really showed us how to find answers for people,” Nora said.

Now she and Duke lead an apologetics class at their church that has grown to a consistent 50 people in attendance—so many that there’s no more room.

“The people keep coming because they are hearing something they haven’t heard before. And it’s not the regular Sunday school material. It’s challenging like they haven’t experienced before.”

People Have Questions. Help Them Find Answers.

Nora’s favorite Bible verse is Psalm 71:18: “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next  generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.”

Supporting SES students like Nora can have a lasting impact on our children and grandchildren.

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