Just hangin’ out, reading about the History of Community VBS in Prince William County, Va.
Years ago, Vacation Bible School within the walls of All Saints’ Church in Woodbridge, Virginia had been loads of fun, but a majority of those participating were from church families who heard the message of Jesus’ love each Sunday. And although many in the congregation had invited friends, family and neighbors to VBS, most of those invited would not come, often because of the unfamiliarity of the church and the inconvenience of transporting children. But in 2009, God spoke a new vision for VBS. He said, “Go and tell!” VBS was taken out from behind the church walls and held throughout the community. That first year God provided 10 neighborhood sites; the next year He provided 15. Then there were 30 and then 40 sites! God has grown this important mission to include multiple partner churches of different denominations and established 50 sites including homeless prevention centers, assisted living facilities, and mobile home and community parks while sending teams to other areas of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Australia, Ecuador, Jamaica, Nicaragua, South Korea, Sudan, Thailand, and Ukraine! Isn’t our God GREAT?!
In 2018, more than 250 volunteers from the partner churches supported the local, national and international sites and served more than 1,200 children. Eighty percent of the children attending were not affiliated with any of the participating churches. How does this VBS model work? Parishioners offer to host Community VBS in their yards in the morning, afternoon, or evening. Hosts include young families, empty nesters, singles and retirees. Host Homes are supported by Bible lesson leaders and at least one host home assistant. To make all the Community VBS fun possible, traveling teams of volunteers rotate through the sites to lead the children in crafts, worship and games. This particular format has worked beautifully each year, as the teams sweeping in offer new energy and the promise of something fun! The response from each community, as well as the churches, is overwhelmingly positive and supportive. There is JOY in serving in this mission field as the body of Christ works side by side to take the Gospel into the community.
For 2019, the curriculum selected and modified for Community Vacation Bible School is “IN THE WILD” by Life Way. Eight churches will be partnering to take CVBS into many parts of the world. They include All Nations, All Saints’, Bethel United Methodist, Church of the Apostles in the City, Grace Baptist, Occoquan Bible, Reconciliation Community and Spirit and Life. To learn more about how Community VBS works, please contact All Saints’ Children’s Ministry and Community VBS Director Lindsey Feldman at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the church office at 703-670-0093.