Parents and children are still in search of various activities to do for the summer and there is always one universal activity that maintains an atmosphere of “learning while having fun,” Vacation Bible School (VBS). Some churches have already held VBS sessions while there are some still upcoming for the remainder of July.
What is Vacation Bible School? Research shows, the origins of Vacation Bible School can be traced back to Hopedale, Illinois in 1894. Sunday school teacher D. T. Miles, who also was a public school, felt she was limited by time constraints in teaching the Bible to children. So, she started a daily Bible school to teach children during the summer. The first Bible school enrolled forty students and lasted four weeks. A local school was used for classes, while an adjoining park was used for recess.
In 1898 Eliza Hawes, director of the children’s department at Epiphany Baptist Church in New York City, started an “Everyday Bible School” for slum children at a rented beer parlor in New York’s East Side. Hawes continued her efforts for seven years.
Dr. Robert Boville of the Baptist Mission Society, became aware of the Hawes’ summer program and recommended it to other Baptist churches. Boville established a handful of summer schools which were taught by students at the Union Theological Seminary. During one summer, one thousand students were enrolled in five different schools. In 1922, he founded the World Association of Daily Vacation Bible School.
One year later, Standard Publishing produced the very first printed VBS curriculum. Enough material was provided for a five-week course for three age levels (kindergarten, primary, and junior).
Today, many churches run their own Vacation Bible School programs without being under the umbrella of a national organization. Some churches opt to use themed curriculum programs from their respective denominations or independent publishing houses, which provide easy preparation and include marketing tools.
Modern programs usually consist of a week-long program of religious education which includes Bible stories, songs, arts and crafts, skits, or puppet shows, etc. and nightly dinner.
Presentations that are rehearsed and performed at the end of the sessions for friends and parents (who didn’t attend the adult bible school classes) are invited to fellowship and witness the kind of things that were taught during the VBS term.
Groups of local churches who do not have the resources to run VBS for the entire summer may elect to coordinate their schedules to provide continuous childcare.
Most churches provide VBS programs at no cost to those attending. Some churches, however, may charge a fee for the program. The cost, if any, is established by the church.
Below is a short list of local churches that have VBS still coming up in July:
July 14-17—Nolensville United Methodist Church, 7316 Nolensville Rd., Nolensville, TN, 6-8 p.m. 615-776-2815
July 15-19—Clark Memorial UMC, 1014 14th Ave. N., 5 p.m.-8:30 p.m. 615-329-4464
July 15-19—Calvary UMC (Green Hills), 3701 Hillsboro Road Nashville, 9 a.m.-12 noon, (615) 297-7562
July 19-21—Park Avenue Baptist Church, 4300 Park Ave., 6 p.m.-8:30 p.m. (615) 297-5336
July 22-26—Connection Pointe Assembly of God, 3016 Nolensville Pike, 6:30 pm.-8:30 p.m., (615) 750-3601
July 22-26—Christ Church North, 6 p.m.-9 p.m. (dinner at 5 p.m.)
For additional VBS listings google VBS.