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    VBS Programs Go Virtual

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    Families look forward to Vacation Bible School (VBS) every summer, but the Coronavirus pandemic has prevented most programs from pushing through.

    Since the public is advised to stay indoors, churches had to think of an alternative to the usual VBS where kids get together to learn about religion, do creative activities, and sing worship songs, reports The Villages Daily Sun.

    Many churches decided to take VBS online. First Baptist Church of Oxford offers “Concrete and Cranes” to children in kindergarten to fifth grade.

    “Due to health concerns, we are taking as much caution as possible to get VBS to children in our community,” said Marc Preece, youth pastor for First Baptist Oxford. “That’s why we are going to be a fully online VBS this summer.”

    Parents are advised to pick up the supplies needed for VBS at the church a week before the program starts. The package consists of the materials for VBS for every registered student. Throughout VBS week, the church will send out the link of the day’s set of videos to the parent’s registered email address.

    Due to health concerns, we are taking as much caution as possible to get VBS to children in our community. —Marc Preece, youth pastor for First Baptist Oxford

    Meantime, Myers Park Baptist in Charlotte, NC offers a 20-minute Zoom call which includes a song and a daily question, according to Baptist News Global. Children can watch the program live or at a later time.

    “A lot of us are really digging deep into our creativity and figuring out how we can offer something for families and for children that is accessible and doable without feeling like one more thing to do,” shared Carrie Veal, minister of children and community life.

    Veal explained that a virtual VBS allows the church and parents to cater activities based on the interests of the child. “For kids who don’t like crafts, the kid doesn’t have to deal with the annoyance of going to the craft rotation and the parents don’t have to worry about the craft supplies,” she pointed out. “Instead, there might be a cool science opportunity that the child could get really excited about.”

    Some churches plan to hold in-person VBS. In addition to a virtual VBS, New Covenant United Methodist Church is organizing a summer camp filled with worship songs, crafts, games and a faith-focused devotion.

    “We had a whole summer planned out for our children and teens, but everything got blown out of the water due to COVID-19,” said Kayla DeSimone, family minister. “We are looking at other alternative plans for the summer, particularly for members of our Youth Ministry, who saw their mission trips canceled due to the crisis.”

    Oxford Assembly of God started its Amplify programs for area middle and high school students. “Area children, especially older students, are feeling cooped up, and they want to thrive and socialize again,” said Amanda Hahn, youth minister. “The Amplify events allow middle and high school students to socialize, participate in Bible study and worship, and be together.”

    With the ongoing pandemic, some area churches opted to postpone their VBS till next year. However, Thom Schultz, president and founder of Group Publishing, a company that produces VBS materials, said 2020 is the right time to conduct VBS.

    “Kids today are filled with fear, confusion and are experiencing a loss of hope,” Schultz said. “There’s not a better time for something like Vacation Bible School to come along with a message of hope and a sense of God’s love and protection for them.”

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