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Church holds traveling VBS

Church members Joyce Strickland and Teresa Seal help children with their crafts at FUMC-Russellville’s traveling VBS on July 17. | Photo by Kellie Singleton.
Church members Joyce Strickland and Teresa Seal help children with their crafts at FUMC-Russellville’s traveling VBS on July 17. | Photo by Kellie Singleton.

Bo Lloyd said when he and other members of his church began brainstorming for this year’s Vacation Bible School program, they had one example that they kept coming back to – Jesus.

Lloyd, who serves as the pastor of First United Methodist Church in downtown Russellville, said they noticed how time and time again, Jesus went out into the wilderness, out into the streets and brought his message to the people where they were.

“If you read the Bible, Jesus doesn’t just sit in the synagogue and expect the people to come to him,” Lloyd said.

“Jesus goes out to the people. He goes out to where they are and he brings his message to them instead of waiting around for these people to come and hear what he has to say.”

Lloyd said they took this idea and began to use it to plan their annual VBS.

“We kept talking back and forth about this concept of a traveling VBS where we would take the program to the kids instead of having the parents bring the kids to us, and we had even talked to the church about it to see what everyone thought,” Lloyd said.

“During this time, I went to our Annual Conference and I heard one of the pastors speak about relying on the power of God and getting out from behind our own walls and reaching out to others.

“I just believed it was confirmation that we were on the right track with our approach to VBS this year.”

Lloyd said when he came back from the conference, he spoke with Scarlett Studdard, who helps with the children’s ministry, and with Michelle Murray, who serves as the VBS coordinator, and they began to move forward with their plans.

“We initially thought we would do some sort of feeding program, but we found out the city already does something like that” Lloyd said, “so I spoke with Chad Sears at the park and rec department and we decided to choose our sites for VBS based on where they also administered the summer feeding program and sort of tie it in that way.”

Ultimately the church chose Eastside Apartments, Westside Apartments, and the Chucky Mullins Center to serve as central locations for their traveling VBS, which was scheduled for a series of Thursday evenings this month.

The church went to Eastside on July 10, to Westside on July 17, and they will be at the Chucky Mullins Center this Thursday, July 24.

Murray, who has coordinated the program, said it has gone over very well so far, with 112 participants the first week and 114 the second week.

“We have had a great response both weeks,” she said.

“The children from our church as well as the children who live near these areas have really seemed to enjoy all the activities, and we’ve even had parents and adults who have come out and participated. It has been a great experience so far.”

Murray said the program includes a time of music, a meal, a Bible story, a craft, and games.

“We have had some wonderful church members volunteer their time to help with all these different areas and really help make this a successful event,” Murray said.

“We couldn’t have done this without all of their help.”

Murray said they also enlisted the help of the church’s youth group in the hopes they would learn a valuable lesson.

“We want our youth to realize that they don’t have to go to a different place in order to minister to people,” she said.

“Our own community is a mission field in itself. There are plenty people here who need to hear about Jesus and need to know about God’s love, and that’s what we hoped our youth and even the rest of our church would see.

“We want the people in this community to know that we care about them and love them.”

Murray said the theme of the VBS events has been “Jesus feeding the 5,000” and they plan to incorporate that into their final event on July 31.

“We have one more week of VBS at the Chucky Mullins Center and then we will have a wrap-up program at our church the last week,” she said.

“We’re going to have a fish fry to tie into our theme, and we’re also going to have a slide show and other activities. We really hope those who came to our different VBS events will come out to this last event, and even those who weren’t able to make it to any of the VBS events are welcome to come.”

Murray said the wrap-up event would start at 6 p.m. on July 31 in the church’s Ministry Center, located behind the church.

“I really think this has been a great experience for everyone – the kids as well as the adults and volunteers,” she said.