Local churches entertain, evangelize at VBS events

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It’s a huge week – boisterous, busy and Biblical – with scores of young visitors dashing to-and-fro across the campus of Forest Home Baptist Church.

The congregation’s annual Drive Thru Nativity in December is probably the church’s biggest draw, Kayla Pannel says, and Vacation Bible School each summer is a solid second.

After the Christmas event, “It’s our bigger thing for outside people coming in,” she said Tuesday morning as she dashed between stations – music, crafts, games – filing the church buildings. “If we can get a little of the message of Christ in that one week, it’s worth all the planning.”

There’s a lot of prep-work that goes into a church’s annual Vacation Bible School, agrees Suzanne Roper, children’s director at First Baptist Church of Liberty City.

“We work on it for a year. We spend a year in prayer and decide,” and the five-day ‘Battlefront’ event kicked-off with gusto Monday after a few final weeks of hurried work to convert parts of the church into a faith-focused medieval world: “We found the curriculum and then we developed on from there,” Roper said. “It’s our biggest outreach of the year.”

Highland Park Baptist Church’s annual VBS is underway this week as well, set 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. nightly Monday through Friday with a “Shipwrecked” theme, also adopted by St. Luke’s United Methodist Church for its June 25-29 outreach.

(Find a developing list of local VBS opportunities on this page.)

Forest Home adopted LifeWay Christian Resources’ 2018 Vacation Bible School: “Game On” exhorts children to join God’s team and follow the ultimate playbook in training hard, celebrating salvation and encouraging each other. First Baptist Church picked the same curriculum for June 25-29.

The core verse of the VBS is 2 Peter 1:3, “His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

Volunteers spent about two weeks decorating Forest Home’s old sanctuary with sports regalia for the main assembly area of the VBS. An average of about 225 joined Monday and Tuesday, a mix of participants and VBS workers.

“It’s getting fired up for Christ,” Pannel said, drawing from five Bible stories including Jesus as the good shepherd, Lazarus rising from the dead, Thomas and his belief, John the Baptist and closing with Paul and Silas in Prison.

First Baptist Church’s Battlefront theme draws from Ephesians and encourages participants to “put on the full armor of God.” (Eph. 6:11)

The week opened Monday with 326 in attendance, Roper said, including children and about 100 volunteers.

Members of the church’s youth group are integral in putting on the event, she added, working with adults to both teach, entertain and shepherd groups of children in pre-school through sixth grade.

On Sunday morning, Roper noted, parents are invited to attend a VBS closing ceremony at FBCLC.

“The kids are going to lead the worship on Sunday,” she added.

VBS is also a missions opportunity for FBCLC: there’s ongoing fundraising throughout the June 11-15 event. Proceeds benefit Braveheart Chaplain Ministry in Montana who director, Drew Buckner, preached at the Liberty City church Sunday. If the VBS meets a $2,000 goal by end of the week, local minister Paul Michael Vacca will be slimed with ‘dragon snot’ in keeping with Battlefront’s medieval theme.

At Forest Home’s VBS, running 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday this week, Thursday is particularly important: according to Pannel, the day includes the church’s annual, all-important invitation for young visitors to accept Christ as their savior.

“We usually have kids get saved that day,” she said. “We’ll counsel them and talk to them, make sure they understand what they’re doing.”

The News Herald is compiling a growing list of VBS activities this summer. Email details about additional events to news1@kilgorenewsherald.com – include the church’s name and phone number, the date and time of the VBS, the year’s theme and the preferred age range of participants.

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