Over last weekend, St. James hosted Vacation Bible School for children from the parish and beyond. It was a great experience for kids, youth, and adults alike. There was singing, Bible stories, games, crafts, and snacks. It had all the beloved and classic elements of V.B.S. making it lots of fun for all involved. The whole experience was topped off with worship on Sunday morning. The children sang, led prayers, collected a noisy offering, and handed out lanterns that they made to worshipers. Skits and photos from Bible school helped to share some of the key learning. Tents, trees, and rocks decorated the worship space, getting everyone into the 'Camp Out' theme.
As I think back on the success of this ministry, three "I"s pop into my mind: Innovation, Invitation, Inspiration
Innovation - This was a classic ministry done in an unorthodox way on a weekend. One of the great challenges in previous years (St. James has not had a traditional VBS in about three years) was finding adults who could run it during the week. Thankfully, we always had one or two dedicated folks who did not work during the summer months or were able to take the week off. Staffing was a challenge and it often fell upon all too few shoulders. Offering this year's V.B.S. over a weekend greatly opened the pool of resources. In the way of innovation, this ministry was guided by a Ministry Plan and by a talented group of leaders that came together specifically for this ministry.
Invitation - Flyers announcing V.B.S. were passed out into the community and neighborhoods surrounding St. James. Special scholarships, provided by St. James, encouraged participation among those who are new to the kind of children's ministry that St. James offered. I am proud of the team that went out seeking our families that may not otherwise have come. In the case of one family that didn't have a ride, the team arranged transportation.
Inspiration - Watching our leaders (adults and youth) at work throughout the weekend, I was inspired. It was a joy to experience their energy, creativity, and enthusiasm. Keeping with the theme, they made the extra effort to pitch about a half dozen tents on the lawn. They brought a deep sense of excitement that just propelled the weekend. I am deeply grateful for Paul and Jeni Wojahn, Allyson, Ben, Zoe, and Jack Tressel, Patty Seewald, Sherri and Emily Lawrence, Helen and Dave Osterkamp - what a team! The ministry of St. James happens when people share their gifts of time, talent, and treasure. They shared such rich gifts and the result was an inspiring success.
To top it all off, as we were finishing on Sunday I received a delightful surprise. As the team was taking the trees and tents out of the sanctuary and cleaning up, they were tired and smiling. And they were talking already about next year! Thanks be to God!