History of Community VBS in Prince William County, Virginia
Years ago, Vacation Bible School within the walls of All Saints’ Church in Woodbridge 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. Five years ago, there were 20, four years ago: 30. In the last three years, God has grown this important mission to include seven partner churches and established 40 sites including homeless prevention centers, and mobile home and community parks while sending teams to Pennsylvania, Jamaica, Thailand, and Sudan! Isn’t our God GREAT?!
More than 200 volunteers from the partner churches supported the local sites and served more than 600 children. Eighty percent of the children attending were not affiliated with any of the participating churches. Another 1,200 children have heard the Gospel in Sudan and Jamaica.
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 working together to take the Gospel into the community.
For 2016, the curriculum selected and modified for Community Vacation Bible School is “Submerged” by Life Way. Six churches will be partnering to take VBS into all parts of Prince William, Stafford and Fairfax counties. They include All Saints’, Bethel United Methodist, Grace Baptist, Hope Hill, 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.