Saturday, July 14, 2018

Four-church Vacation Bible School is a success

Children from four Midway churches, and some who have no church home, attended a joint Vacation Bible School this week.
Story and photos by Sarah Ladd
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Four Midway churches enjoyed their first multi-church Vacation Bible School this week, bringing together about 50 children – more than they expected – from the community and several denominations.

Cross-denominational gatherings have become more common in Midway since the creation two years ago of Locally Grown, a community youth group that focuses on uniting youth in the community and breaking down denominational barriers.

This year, Midway United Methodist Church, Midway Christian Church, Midway Presbyterian Church and St. Matthew African Methodist Episcopal Church joined together for what they hope will be the first of many multi-church VBSes in Midway.

Presbyterian Church Pastor Mary Weese said the week was a success, both for the adults and for the children: “We get to be with each other. You don’t get to see people from other churches very often and work with them in projects. So, this has been a great opportunity.” She said the event “snowballed” from a small idea, to hoping for 36 children, to more than 50. “It’s been a huge success.”

Christian Church Pastor Heather McColl said she believes the event “exceeded our expectations” and has been successful enough to continue.  She said she was unsure in the beginning how such an event would work. “It wasn’t that I didn’t think the churches could work together, because the churches have done multiple projects together,” but she wondered about the timing, and that too many people would be traveling. “I am thankfully and gratefully wrong,” she said.
After dinner at the Methodist Church on Thursday, the group walked to St. Matthew AME Church to play games.
Each night, a different church hosted a variety of games, story-telling, Bible memorization and a dinner. On Monday, the group met at the Methodist church; Tuesday, at the Christian Church; Wednesday, at the Presbyterian Church, as Locally Grown hosted the students; and on Thursday, the students met first at the Methodist Church for dinner and walked to St. Mathews AME for a night of games. Friday was scheduled as a family event at the Methodist Church, allowing the children to wind down with their families from the week.

John Davis, who volunteered as one of the supervisors or “shepherds,” explained that the idea for the multi-church effort came from Midway having multiple churches but relatively few youth in each. “It’s difficult for each church to have their own” VBS, he said. “But when you get four together, it just works out so much better.” Davis said the event did not advertise to churches only, and welcomed several children who do not have a home church.

The pastors of the four churches attended each night and chimed in on how successful they think this week’s festivities have been.

“The community fellowship between these four churches is not seen in a lot of communities in Kentucky,” said Pastor Joshua Hale of St. Matthews AME, who said has pastored all around the state. He said Midway churches are doing what a lot of other communities have not embraced: worshipping together across denominations. “These churches work together all year long and worship together in different services all year long,” he said. “It’s a beautiful thing.” He said that it is his hope that the event will continue each year.

Methodist Pastor Mickey Richardson said the event has been “tremendously successful.” She said that “independently, we wouldn’t have had the resources to do all the things that we’re doing. So, by putting our resources together, we are able to serve the entire community.”

Students acted out the story of John the Baptist baptizing Jesus in the Jordan River as Jesus's ministry began.
After dinner Thursday, the students listened to the story of John the Baptist baptizing Jesus, and several students acted it out. Afterward, they split into teams by grades, and each group walked with their shepherd to St. Mathew AME. Once there, teams were given a frozen T-shirt, which they had to work together to melt and unravel and then put on, symbolizing the Biblical idea of donning a “robe of righteousness.”

Jakeb King helped younger children with a frozen T-shirt.
Jakeb King, a sophomore student in Locally Grown, said he enjoyed the event and thinks it should be done three times a year.

He said the programs and interactive songs were his favorite parts because “the kids were really into it. I think what made it really fun was the adults; they’re really active and into it. I think the kids got that energy. They caught onto it.”

King said he loves that churches in the community are coming together, and said he feels there are more opportunities for students to learn when more churches are involved.

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