Unexpected Growth, Unexpected Summer Enthusiasm
By Beth Fultz, Director of Christian Education
St. Stephen Presbyterian Church Vacation Bible School has been a fixture in the community for a long time as one of the early camps to attend in this area. Our reputation for providing good children’s programming in the summer is widely known. We always receive comments like: “This is the best VBS in town,” and “My children insist that they come to this VBS”. Our enrollment the past two years have sky rocketed past our usual 60-70 kids. Last year we reached 80 and in
2019, our enrollment is currently holding at 93, but expected to reach 100 kids! Because of that number, we have made significant changes to the schedule, volunteer assignments, police presence, fence in front yard to house older kids for recreation, all for our environmental themed, “Holy Roly Poly” curriculum. At our Adult VBS Training, Kurt Anderson, asked that we holler out to the Men of the Church to help us make our VBS not only a favorite in the community, but one of the safest. If we can get a few more men to help walk the perimeters and hallways to keep safety our top priority, that would be great. If you agree, a background check must be performed, but it only takes a day for that to occur. Please let me know if you have a morning, afternoon, or day you could assist!
Many of my colleagues view Vacation Bible School as unnecessary and a burden for volunteer recruitment and a dead end for new membership. I can understand their point of view, but I think differently. I view it as our welcomed “Summer Presbyterians”. By week’s end, our teens and teachers and I know all the children’s names, know the parents and siblings, and have a built a solid relationship that continues year after year as the children return to St. Stephen Presbyterian Church’s Vacation Bible School.
Jesus didn’t hang out with the same set of friends, the same synagogue, week after week—other than traveling with his disciples. He reached beyond and TO the unloved, the sick, the socially unacceptable, to those he just met and healed and then traveled to the next town! He met thousands and brought God’s love to them all. Surely, we can mimic that—by welcoming these families onto our premises, loving them, guiding them for a week and hoping we brought the Kingdom of God into their midst for a while. What’s a 100 new faces to us? It’s a gift from God. Let’s accept this unexpected gift!
Be warned that:
- We’ll have a temporary fence on the southwest quadrant of the front lawn to house our recreation for the oldest four classes. Kids will be out there almost every 30 minutes of the day. That goes for the playground on the east side, too, for the youngest four classes.
- One of our plans is have the eight classes Adopt a Tree. Through Carol Vance’s knowledge, we have identified 15 trees on the property eligible for decorating and love.
- Almost all the Education Building will be in use.
- The hallways will be full of life and laughter and noise. Not for the faint of heart!
- These children might get a good impression of our church and return for other functions.
- The youth of this church, and our summer youth participants learn leadership and responsibility.
- God is pleased that our arms are open wide.
I’m going to exhibit unexpected joy at this unexpected gift.