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Churches offer imaginative Bible schools

By Susan Shinn
sshinn@salisburypost.com
Summertime in churches throughout Rowan County means one thing: Vacation Bible School!
Trust me, this is not your mother’s church school.
No more snapping graham cracker squares and pouring OJ for snacks, singing a few songs, reading a Bible story, maybe playing a game of hot potato out on the sidewalk and then going home.
Heck no!
Today’s Vacation Bible School means elaborate decorations, rotating activity stations, recorded music, Power Point presentations, waterfalls … even the Ark of the Covenant.
In case you’re wondering, no, it’s not the real one, but it’s a nice touch all the same.
Even with all the bells and whistles, the message remains the same: sharing the Good News of God and Jesus Christ.
There’s something for everyone, all over the county.
In Salisbury, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church offered “Bigger Stories from the Bible.”
(Last year was “Big Stories from the Bible.”)
This past week, 26 children, with the help of a dozen volunteers, explored the stories of Deborah, Ruth, Jesus in the Temple, Jesus and Zaccheus and Jesus Walking on the Water.
The church has purchased popular VBS packages in the past, said volunteer Mandy Monath, but organizers decided to come up with their own ideas this year.
Three groups of children, ages 4 through 10, rotated through the learning center, games, storytelling, music art and snack time.
The Bible school concluded Friday with a picnic and presentation for parents.
Since Friday was the day students learned about Jesus Walking on the Water, they played all sorts of water games outdoors. They also had snacks of blue Jell-O ó now, how cool is that?
The most detailed activity was the learning center, which Monath transformed into something different each day.
One day, students learned how to grind wheat. Another day, they entered the holy temple to view the Ark of the Covenant.
They were impressed.
Monath had to explain that it wasn’t the actual ark.
On Thursday, they took turns being guests and servants at the dinner given by Zaccheus in honor of Jesus.
The kids sampled hummus, bulgur, dates, almonds, figs and pita bread.
“This stuff is good!” Nellie Brown said.
Some of them didn’t particularly like the hand-held fans with the air conditioning blowing full-blast.
Others, such as Blane Roberts, gave it all they had when it came their turn to fan.
“It’s a fanning revolt!” Monath said.
If you can’t have fun at VBS, you may as well hang it up.
Speaking of fun ó out in the breezeway, Ryan Emmett, a recent Salisbury High School graduate and several other youths in costume were leading children in the storytelling tent.
Silky curtains blowing in the breeze created a cool, relaxing atmosphere.
“Ryan improvises with the kids and has them in hysterics,” said the Rev. C.C. Schroeder, assistant priest and Bible school director.
On this particular morning, Emmett was trying to entice the four-year-olds to try to get some “bling” away from the tax collector.
“You have to be fast ó greased lightning fast!” Emmett said with an interesting accent. “I’m a very speedy tax collector! Don’t you want some bling?”
One little girl shook her head no. But a brave boy slipped by her to claim his prize.
Outdoors, an older group of youngsters was looking for small treasures in the shrubbery. Schroeder said they were used to ferreting out prizes at the church’s annual Easter egg hunt. Sure enough, she pointed out some plastic egg shards in the bushes.

Coming in Monday LifeStyle: Travel to “Outrigger Island” at First Baptist Church.

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