Vacation Bible School is an event many churches host for children with activities and songs centered around stories or themes from Scripture. VBS is traditionally a week-long gathering in summertime in the U.S., but St. Paul United Methodist Church in Abilene,Texas has figured out how to keep the fun going as an after school program.
(Locator: Abilene, Texas)
Scot Yarbrough, St. Paul United Methodist Church: "The story from the Bible today is about some guys that were in a pressure situation."
Susan Mouser, St. Paul United Methodist Church: "We go to Johnston Elementary. The program is called The Jungle."
The Rev. Felicia Hopkins, St. Paul United Methodist Church: "Sometimes we become couch potatoes, or church potatoes, and we think that everybody who needs to be at church is at church. That's not true. Our job isn't just to come in here and get our cup full and feel great and leave. It's to be intentional, to look, to listen, to hear."
Adam Samuels, St. Paul United Methodist Church: "So many of the students that we're reaching, this is brand new, faith is new, 'Who is Jesus?'"
The Rev. Felicia Hopkins: "Any time we can tell the story of Christ is when we do it."
The Rev. Felicia Hopkins: "I'm Rev. Felicia Hopkins, I am the Senior Pastor at St. Paul United Methodist Church here in Abilene, Texas. Our number one success, I would say for me, is our ministry to Johnston Elementary School."
(Leader addresses group) "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego…"
The Rev. Felicia Hopkins: "We got rid of Vacation Bible School which was one week a year, and I wanted to figure out a way to use that money but to have it reach more people."
Adam Samuels: "We were concerned that Vacation Bible School every summer, once a week, was reaching basically our kids, my kids, but not new kids, not new families."
The Rev. Felicia Hopkins: "And so we found a program where we could go into the school, after school, and offer Bible classes. So instead of having Vacation Bible School five days, once a year, we have Vacation Bible School, we call it The Jungle, 26 weeks a year."
Susan Mouser: "The kids love it. The principal says, 'Thank you.' The teachers stop by and say, 'I can tell that little Johnny comes to The Jungle, it's making a difference in his life.'"
(Leader addresses group) "He saw four people. Some people think that it was an angel, some people think that it might have been Jesus."
Adam Samuels: "The reason why to continue and why not to go back to the old way, is because it is reaching new people in ways we never dreamed. It's always a surprise what God can do when we allow ourselves to be changed and to redirect ourselves back to where we can best reach our community."
Pat Mouser: "As a congregation, I would say that our main thing that we're doing right now is bringing in people that have not been a part of The United Methodist Church."
The Rev. Felicia Hopkins: "We want to be the type of church that gives our mission dollars to places where we can better or develop people. My goal is to minister to the local body and to keep us on track with the mission of The United Methodist Church, which is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world."
The Rev. Felicia Hopkins: "Our primary responsibility is to go intentionally and bring them back, baptize them and teach them."
To learn more about the program contact St. Paul UMC directly at 325-672-7814.
This congregation is reaching out in many ways. See a story about their Sunday broadcast that invited viewers to be baptized.
This video was produced by United Methodist Communications in Nashville, TN.
Media contact is Fran Walsh, 615-742-5458.
This video was first posted on August 4 , 2017.