This summer, some Greenfield area churches are doing Vacation Bible School (VBS) a little differently. Due to COVID-19 concerns, the First Baptist Church, the First Presbyterian Church, the Trinity Christian Union Church, and the South Salem Methodist Church are holding a community VBS program online, First Presbyterian Church representative Becky Anderson told The Times-Gazette.
“I was really nervous about saying, ‘Let’s have community VBS,’ and having 75 kids come into one church building and having it be like, ‘How do we keep this clean? How do we keep everyone from infecting someone else?’” Anderson said. “I wasn’t ready to take that risk for the children and the families in the community, but we still wanted to share that love of Jesus with them. I think this is the best alternative we could find at this point for that.”
Since VBS is online this summer, Anderson said there will be no age limit on who can participate.
School-age children who register before the event will be able to pick up packets that include a majority of the materials VBS participants will need for lessons and activities. Families will be able to pick up these packets at the colonnades, located on North Fifth St., on Monday, July 6 from 10-11a.m. and 6-7 p.m.
Anderson and other members of the committee that organized the event ask that those picking up packets remain in their vehicles, where a representative will meet them to see how many packets they need.
“We wanted to make it as easy for parents as possible, but fun and exciting for the kids,” Anderson said. “They’re going to be able to pick up a packet, and it’ll have, like, tape, different sponges, some things they’re going to need for some of the games, the Bible verses the lessons are from each day — it’ll have all that stuff in there, so they can just pull out the packet for day one and be able to have 90 percent of what they need. One day I think they have to have grapes, but we obviously can’t put that in the week before.”
Anderson said she plans to also include a list of additional materials families will need for the program.
For Anderson and other members, an online VBS experience that was as easy as possible for parents and guardians was a top priority.
“There are several of us on the committee who are involved with the school, so we heard and we understood how hard it was for parents during the end of the school year, and we wanted to make this not difficult. I know our school tried so hard to do the very best they could to try to help parents not feel overwhelmed, but I know they were overwhelmed because I was overwhelmed. I have three teenagers, and it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, how am I going to get all of this work done with them?’” Anderson said. “What I like about this program is that it’s not like the parents have to look it up and they have to come up with the game — everything is there. They tell you what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it, and then you can pause it, and you play the game. And the person who teaches the story — they actually teach the story. They don’t say, ‘OK now, go read this’; they actually teach the story to you. It’s a neat program that you don’t have to prepare for. You just go through what you went to VBS. You would play a game and you would have a story. They do a little craft thing with the kids. Each thing is explained and done for them, so the parents don’t have to look at the piece of paper and go, ‘Oh, yeah, let’s figure out how to do that now.’”
The online VBS will be held Tuesday, July 7 through Thursday, July 9, Anderson said, and each morning of VBS the First Presbyterian Church will post a link to that day’s lessons and activities.
“It will be posted in the morning, but you can click on the link anytime through the day and even for all eternity basically. They can go through each day of the VBS on their time, so they can do that at their leisure,” Anderson said. “They can even invite neighbor kids over, if they’re comfortable having them come over to their house to do it. It’s a neat program — it’s very versatile. You can do it with one child or you can do it with 10 or 15 kids, depending on how comfortable you feel with that.”
According to Anderson, churches in and around Greenfield began holding a community VBS around four years ago.
“It’s just really neat how we’ve been able to work together. We’ve been doing community VBS together for several years now — different churches, different years,” Anderson said. “Some will join in and some won’t do it the next year, and that’s fine, but it’s neat to see the churches work together, and I think that’s important for the community to see. It’s not just Trinity or First Presbyterian — we’re all working together because we love God, and we want to share His love with you.”
Anderson said it’s important to hold a VBS program this year — and during normal years too.
“For me, I know a lot of my adult friends were reached with the love of God at a VBS program. I think that it’s so important to share that love and that message that Jesus loves them and so do we. If we don’t say that as the church, how are they going to know that Jesus loves them?” Anderson said. “I want to make sure that in whatever way we can we’re reaching the community, reaching families, letting them know that they’re loved and cared for — not just that God is some story in a Bible, but that He’s real, and we want to share His love with you. Every year we do VBS because we want to share that love.”
To register online, visit www.myvbs.org/greenfieldvbs. For questions or additional information, like or follow the “Greenfield Community VBS” Facebook page.
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.