Little Rock Scripture Study (LRSS), a ministry of the Diocese of Little Rock that develops Roman Catholic Bible study materials, began as a plan to provide Bible study for interested Catholics in central Arkansas. As of 2009, Little Rock Scripture Study materials are used in 7,500 Catholic parishes across the United States and fifty-four countries around the world.
Tammy and Fred Woell of Little Rock (Pulaski County), along with Jerome Kodell, a Benedictine priest who later became the abbot of Subiaco Abbey, organized a group to begin planning the Bible study. The group sponsored its first Bible study in the fall of 1974, using a twelve-week study guide and commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, written by Kodell. Fifty participants were expected, but 150 attended. The Woells printed copies of the Bible study guide on a mimeograph machine in their garage. Soon, parishes in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Conway (Faulkner County) began to use the study material. Eventually, Bible study materials developed by the Woells and Kodell were distributed to Catholic parishes in more rural areas of Arkansas. The Woells continued to distribute Bible study materials from their home until 1978.
In 1978, Bishop Andrew J. McDonald offered LRSS space at St. John’s Center in Little Rock, the official location of the offices of the Catholic Diocese of Little Rock. With increased space to produce materials, and intensified demand from parishioners across the United States for Bible study material, LRSS received national recognition. Parishes in Nebraska, Texas, and Connecticut began to use LRSS material. Between 1978 and 1985, distribution of Bible study sets rose by 5,000 per year. In 1985, LRSS reached a publishing agreement with the Liturgical Press of Collegeville, Minnesota. Sales of Bible study sets increased more than ninety percent during the first two years of the publishing agreement.
LRRS currently employs five full-time staff members and offers more than thirty English-language Bible study sets and twelve Spanish-language Bible study sets. Approximately 2.8 million Bible study sets have been sold since the organization’s creation. LRSS also produces answer guides for Bible study set questions and recorded lectures detailing material in Bible study sets. Staff members also present workshops highlighting LRSS courses throughout the United States and in other countries. LRSS is finically independent but remains a ministry of the Diocese of Little Rock.
In 2011, LRSS published the Little Rock Catholic Study Bible, a project nine years in the making. Bishop Anthony Taylor presented a copy to Pope Benedict XVI during a fall 2011 visit to Rome, Italy.
For additional information:
Little Rock Scripture Study. http://www.littlerockscripture.org (accessed March 30, 2009).
Lockwood, Frank. “Little Rock Scripture Study Spread across Catholic World.” Arkansas Democrat Gazette, December 6, 2008, pp. 4B–5B.
Storm, Christie. “Mass Appeal.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, January 7, 2012, pp. 4B–5B.
Little Rock, Arkansas