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First Baptist bringing vacation Bible school to the children

For many church families, the summer months mean vacation Bible school. It’s a time when children strengthen their faith through a program of scripture-related activities to help them better understand the Bible.

But with the coming of the COVID-19 virus pandemic, local churches have had to break from the traditional summer programs for children and find other ways to deliver the activities and lessons taught during vacation Bible school.

For First Baptist Church, it meant getting out of the usual VBS setting and taking the program to local neighborhoods.

The program is called “Backyard Bible Club,” a mix of in-person and virtual programs to help bring the vacation Bible school experience to the children where they live.

“We will have VBS components that parents can log onto with their kids,” said Laura Gee, children’s ministry coordinator for First Baptist.

She said the program, which is expected to begin July 1, was developed out of concern for the virus.

“We are sensitive to the numbers and the safety of the children and our staff and also abiding with the governor’s recommendations and number recommendations,” she said. “We decided to adjust our in-person VBS to meet the needs of the children.”

Gee said the program will target certain locations in the city, adding, “We are still fine-tuning the addresses for that.” The in-person sites could be at a private home or a city park, she said.

The Backyard Bible Clubs, she said, will be in-person.

“We will be there (at the locations) two or three nights a week for the children in the neighborhood to come join us for those Bible stories, games, crafts and a snack,” she said.

The virtual program for children who are unable to attend the in-person neighborhood programs will be available through First Baptist’s website. The virtual program will include a Bible story, music, games and a craft.

Gee said the decision to take vacation Bible school to the neighborhood was because of the number of children who usually attend the summer program when it is held at the church.

“When we meet at the church, we typically run around 200,” she said. “If we go with the neighborhoods, it will disperse the children. We won’t have that many at each location.”

The in-person program will be presented by members of the church’s leadership team, volunteers and teens.

She said the church staff has been working on the program since April when they saw the shelter-in-place recommendations would force them to alter plans for the annual summer program.

“Once we realized that this (COVID-19) was not going to end, we decided we needed to adapt to meet the needs of our community,” Gee said. “The parents are very grateful we are adapting for their child’s spiritual (needs) and training.

“It will be great for the kids,” she said. “I didn’t want the kids to miss out on vacation Bible school because they lost so much with corona.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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