Time for bible school

Published 10:38 pm Friday, June 24, 2011

Suffolk churches will dive into the Bible during the summer for Vacation Bible School.

Vacation Bible School is getting geared up at churches across Suffolk, and local children are encouraged to get involved in as many as they can.

“We feel as though it gives an opportunity for the young people to have something to do during the summer to keep them out of trouble,” said the Rev. Roland Brown of Little Mount Zion Baptist Church, which is hosting a Vacation Bible School next week. “If they have the chance to go to more than one Vacation Bible School, it’s something to do throughout the whole summer.”

According to Standard Publishing, which produces a VBS curriculum every year, Vacation Bible School started in the 1890s in a park in Hopedale, Ill. Mrs. D.T. Miles had been a public school teacher and continued teaching Sunday school classes afterward. She was unhappy with the short time she had with the children on Sunday mornings and decided to organize a daily school during the summer months.

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Four years later, Mrs. Eliza Hawes began what she called an “Everyday Bible School” in a rented beer parlor in New York City. She continued the school for seven years, incorporating Bible stories, music and crafts.

Dr. Robert Boville of the New York Baptist Mission Society became aware of the work and believed it could be a useful model for other churches. He enlisted the help of students from Union Theological Seminary. More than 1,000 students were enrolled in five schools that summer.

One year later, Standard Publishing produced the first printed VBS curriculum.

“It’s such a different experience than being in a classroom Sunday for an hour,” said Connie Schau, director of Christian education at Ebenezer United Methodist Church. “It’s more of a family thing. The kids get to learn from the grown-ups and the grandparents. It’s just a great time for them to share with each other.”

Ebenezer will re-create the town of Jerusalem as it looked in Jesus’ childhood days. The children will learn throughout the week about Christ’s childhood, the trade of carpentry, His first miracles and more.

“It will be memorable, that’s for sure,” Schau said.

Brown’s church will hold the Vacation Bible School for all ages, from kindergarten through adults.

“It’s only a week, but we feel like it might be an important week during the summer,” Brown said.

His church hopes to expand its Vacation Bible School program to a longer summer camp in future years, Brown added.

“This will allow them to be educated about the Bible,” he said.

Vacation Bible Schools at Suffolk churches will be listed in the church news throughout the summer. Check there for a program offered by a church near you.