Compass Class Marks 50th Anniversary

by | Sep 8, 2023 | Feature

By Vy Malcik

Four couples who started a new Sunday School class at Wilshire are celebrating with the more than 70 other people who are now members of what was the first class for men and women to meet together to study the Bible and the many ways it informs our lives.

Compass Class was born after Sam Tinsley and Mike Moorhead met with Wilshire’s minister of education to request a couples class at Wilshire.

The idea was untried here at that time, though many couples who joined had experienced this at other churches. The minister agreed but was skeptical because Sam and Mike also raised the idea of not using the standard Southern Baptist “quarterlies” of the era.

An undated photo from the early days of Compass Class

Instead, they proposed class members could plan a curriculum of Bible study and other books, some written by biblical scholars who knew the Hebrew and Greek languages. These theologians could often illuminate what Bible verses meant in the context of the author, dates, politics of Rome and Jewish religious traditions.

Finding themselves as four couples in a new classroom, the husbands and wives soon realized that they each were Baptists as soon as they were born! All are the children of parents who were active in the Baptist faith. They had been in Sunday School, Training Union, Wednesday night Bible study and Sunday preaching and singing both morning and night for their entire lives. They had belonged to Sunbeams, Girls Auxiliary and Royal Ambassadors, youth organizations that were once part of Baptist life.

These eight people — Sam and Peggy Tinsley, Mike and Shaeron Moorhead, Joe and Claudia Barner, and Michael and Vy Malcik — are all still active in Compass, a class that from the beginning has been committed to growing as followers of Jesus and trying to be the hands and feet of Christ on this earth.

Compass now has 65 resident members, 11 distance members and six associate members who teach in other Sunday School classes.

Though the class began with only couples, it was never intended to be couples-only.  Larry Harrington, now in his nineties, was the first to come as a single adult many years ago, and now we have 23 members in the class who are single by choice, widowed or divorced. Ages in Compass range from mid-40s to 90s. Every body has been and always is welcome in this class.

Compass in 2018

As the 2023-2024 class year begins, members are set with a new curriculum with teaching from both women and men. This year we will learn from Timothy Peoples; George Mason; Mark Wingfield, publisher of Baptist News Global; retired ministers and missionaries; biblical scholars; County Judge Clay Jenkins; active and retired hospital chaplains; birders; journalists; ethicists; public school teachers; university professors; historians; musicians and poets, including 12 men and 11 women of the class.

One of our own longtime members, Gwin Morris, a university professor and administrator plus husband, dad, granddad and devoted friend to us all, wrote what we commonly accept as the meaning of our gathering: “Compass is all about direction — where we are going and how we are going to get there as a bold witness to the Way of Christ in our time. Our tradition has always been openness and freedom; belief and relevance. Thanks be to God for Compass Class!”

Compass Class again thanks Wilshire for supporting women and men studying and serving together as grateful stewards of what we have been given as brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus our Lord.