While it is unknown exactly when the first Bash-Whisler took place, this year’s competition is at least the 52nd in NCU’s history. Dr. Doyle Srader, who organizes and hosts the competition, said that we know the Bash-Whisler is at least in its 52nd year because, “the 2012 finals coincided with a 50th class reunion, and one of the reunion attendees still knew her passage.”
Each contestant in the Bash-Whisler selects two passages of scripture, one from the Old Testament, which is read aloud, and another from the New Testament, which is recited from memory, with each being at least 12 verses in length. Contestants then read and recite these passages artfully and expressively, bringing the words of scripture to life as they are spoken aloud.
As it is every year, Friday’s Bash-Whisler was a joyful and exciting experience. G.K. Bash-Griffith, Ron Whisler, and other members of the families after whom the competition is named were present, along with two former finalists, Angela Doty and President Womack. With each contestant having such a grand and Christ-honoring performance it was difficult to discern a clear winner, but after Doyle and a panel of careful judges tallied up the points a champion was found.
Taking first place and winning the $350 grand prize was Kelsay Gardiepy. Kelsay was a finalist in the 2012 competition, but championed this year with a powerful reading of Isaiah 52:13-53:12 and John 19:1-16.
In addition to the finalists, semi-finalists Lars Coburn, Corey Garrett, Chelsea King (who all tied for fourth) won $125 each. As the points were being tallied, each contestant got to share how the experience of participating in the Bash-Whisler had impacted them. While each had a different way of expressing their thoughts, it was clear that the prize money each had received was simply a bonus to the riches each found in the discipline of committing scripture to memory and taking the time to dwell on its contents.