Summer is synonymous with Vacation Bible School (VBS). But VBS, pandemic style, requires pairing safety with creativity.
Take a look at how some United Methodist churches are adapting.
Keeping social distancing and safety protocols in mind, church leaders at Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church created a drive-thru VBS. Each Monday for four weeks, families pick up packets of VBS-themed stories, arts and crafts, along with a hot meal, delivered right to their vehicles.
Once at home, VBS participants have all the materials necessary to enjoy a VBS lesson, including accompanying videos located at the church website.
Mount Pleasant UMC’s 2020 theme of "Listening to God" is told through the stories of Noah, Jonah, Zacchaeus and Peter. The VBS kit, according to Martha Hallquist, children's minister at Mount Pleasant UMC, includes a scripture/story page, family devotion page, game page, challenge of the week, song for the week, and a bonus page such as a family skit, all packaged in a large envelope. Each child also gets a craft bag
Approximately 120 families are receiving VBS materials and meals.
"I appreciated that Martha, the children's minister, worked to find a way that we could still have that experience of reliving the Bible school stories that help shape your life, in this coronavirus atmosphere," Cheryl Lowe commented. She and her husband, the Rev. Vance Lowe, a retired United Methodist pastor, did the VBS activities with four of their grandchildren.
At the Children's Ministry Initiative (CMI), staff created VBS curriculum to serve the Korean United Methodist churches in the United States. With the 2020 theme of “Rocky Railroad: Jesus' Power Pulls Us Through," churches and families receive stories, songs, crafts and snacks ideas. Churches may customize their VBS experience and order packets to hand out to its members or participate online through the VBS portal. At the VBS portal, interactive videos demonstrate how to make themed snacks, guide sing-a-longs with words onscreen and provide step-by-step instructions for crafts.
“The churches who are using our resources range from churches with five children to large size UMC churches with over 250 children,” says the Rev. Tarah Lee of the Korean United Methodist Church of Greater Washington. “As of today, we have 78 churches involved, churches all across the U.S. from Hawaii to Seattle to Denver to Oklahoma, to Alabama and Michigan. We also have Korean congregations from various denominations in the U.S. taking part, including Korean Baptist Church, Korean Presbyterian Church, United Methodist Church, Korean Community Church, and even a church in South Korea.”
The CMI, KUMC of Greater Washington and Korean United Methodist Church of Detroit also sponsored churches and families who could not afford VBS packets.
“It has been such a blessing to work together,” Lee comments, “but, most of all, to help churches bring God's Word during this time of uncertainty and isolation.”
Crystal Caviness works for UMC.org at United Methodist Communications. Contact her by email or by calling 615-742-5138.
This story was published July 29, 2020.