Sometimes during Vacation Bible School in the summer, it may seem that local churches feel the pressure to one-up each other on their program to try to compete for the children who are willing to go. That’s not the case in Rich Hill. Rather than competing, the churches are cooperating.
For the past few years, three churches located next to each other in Rich Hill have decided to work together. The Christian Church starts off the day with the welcoming, and keeps the little ones in their nursery. The United Methodist Church provides dinner, outdoor activities and a breakfast pack for the children to take home and eat the next morning. The Baptist Church does most of the activities and art projects. The children rotate around between the three churches.
The Vacation Bible School is usually held the third week in July from Sunday through Thursday. The Christian Church often provides a big closing activity for the children on Friday, like a trip to the pool or inflatable bounce houses. Nearly 80 children participate.
When Ethen Wayne Coble was appointed a pastor at Sheldon UMC a few years, most of the people in the congregation couldn’t remember when they had last had a Vacation Bible School, but it had been a while. “Probably 15 or 20 years,” Coble said.
He decided it was high time to give it another go, even if he had to do it himself. But the church didn’t leave him standing alone – they all pitched in. That first year they did a three-night Bible study to test the waters.
“After we were done, everyone was talking about how much fun it was. It was a lot of work but also a lot of fun,” Coble said.
The church gets its curriculum and materials from a larger church a year after they have used it, so they don’t have the expense of buying everything new. Now they do their program for five nights, with the final program held during the Sunday morning worship service. The church only has about five Bible-school age children in its congregation, but they draw in another 20 or so children from the community. Around 15 – 20 adults volunteer to run the VBS.
“I’m a firm believer in that if you take care of the kids, the adults will see that and get involved in the church as well,” Coble said.
This year First UMC in Sedalia hosted a vacation bible school training and networking event called Rome VBS FunShop on March 25. Area churches that were planning to present Group Publishing’s Rome VBS this summer received hands-on training from a representative from Group to maximize the impact of their VBS program. Participants were able to network and share ideas.
Last year Trinity UMC in Appleton city held a three-day VBS on the church lawn with all leaders in elaborate costumes.
With a theme of “Visiting Jerusalem,” on day one Rebekah entered the tent in Jerusalem with a water jug on her head. She told her story which ended by the well where the woman gave Jesus a drink. The kids all drank water from the well with their supper. On day two, Jesus and John the Baptist arrived in Jerusalem where the kids had a visual of casting the net on the other side of the boat with a real boat and net in place. Also, Jesus fed thousands with five loaves and two fish, so they had a fish fry with loaves of bread. On day three, a storm took the tent and they had to go inside, but Nehemiah and Ezra joined them with the rebuilding of the wall.
Each day the children visited the market where they got to taste things like goat cheese, herbs, figs, nut bread, shrimp, sardines and olives like they might have had in Bible times. Lydia was there with her purple dye made from fruits and vegetables. Children got to decorate and dye their own shirts.
Songs were held in the desert with sand on the basketball pad. “I think this was the best VBS we have had,” church secretary Sandra Long said. “The kids will never forget it.”