Awards for the 2020 Texas Baptists State Bible Drill and Speakers Tournament were announced on July 10. Though the event could not be held in-person due to COVID-19, students from churches around Texas competed virtually. Savannah Green and Katie Kittredge, both from First Baptist Church at the Fields in Carrollton, tied for first place in the Speakers’ Tournament. Becca Matthis from First Baptist Church at the Fields in Carrollton placed third.
Five students were honored for achieving a perfect score of 300 in the Bible Drill tournament. These students were Jadon Wall, from First Baptist Church at the Fields in Carrollton; Jenna Scamardo, from First Baptist Church in College Station; Austin White, from First Baptist Church in College Station; Ariana Cox, from First Baptist Church in Irving; and Sarah Nelson, from First Baptist Church Alta Loma in Santa Fe.
Eleven speakers competed in this year’s competition by submitting videos of themselves performing their speeches to be evaluated by a panel of judges. Texas Baptists staff created drills for churches to use in small, virtual competitions for their high schoolers. Students who achieved a perfect score of 300 in the drills were awarded with a certificate of “State Winner Perfect 300 Club.”
Although the tournament could not be conducted in person, the leadership was excited that students could still participate remotely. Diane Lane, Texas Baptists Childhood Discipleship specialist, explained that the tournament imparted important life skills on the students who participated. She explained that the Bible Drill portion of the tournament gave the students an opportunity to learn a multitude of Bible verses that will help them in their daily lives.
“Bible Drill and Speakers' Tournament is a ministry centered around developing Bible skills, scripture memory and doctrine study, which enriches the spiritual foundation of all who participate. The verses that children and youth learn will stay with them for the rest of their lives,” Lane said.
The speaking portion of the tournament gives students the chance to delve into topics in the Scriptures they have memorized.
“I enjoyed doing Speaker Tournament because it allowed devoted time to get together with a mentor and some friends to brainstorm theological topics and ideas to make you think deeply about not only your topic and speech, and the other's too, but about the Bible as a whole,” Green, one of the first-place winners of the Speakers’ Tournament, explained.
Kevin Patterson, Speakers’ coordinator at FBC at the Fields, agreed and said that the Speakers’ Tournament gives students the chance to learn an important life skill.
“Public speaking is a dying skill. The Texas State Bible Drill and Speakers Tournament helps to fill that void,” he said. “I love seeing the light bulb come on as young people begin to discover a God-given talent they never knew they had. Effective communication of Godly truths is a skill that all believers should embrace. Peter 3:15 commands us to, ‘always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.’"
Eleven high school seniors were honored with the Ellen Battles Award for participating in the tournament for all nine years. The award recipients were Tyleigh Phillips, from Central Baptist Church in Evadale; Hailey Burrow, Gracie Daughtrey, Caroline Kemp, Andrew Kissell and Riley Smith from First Baptist Church in Allen; Katie Kittredge, Eric Neibel and Gretchen Warren from First Baptist Church at the Fields in Carrollton; Conner Womack from Friendship Baptist Church in Fairview; and Anna Bardwell, from First Baptist Church in Tenaha.
Though the 2020 National Invitational Tournament for Bible Drill & Speakers’ Tournament was canceled due to COVID-19, winners of this year’s state tournament will be allowed to compete in the 2021 National Tournament.