In today’s world, the idea of two groups working together can sometimes be considered strange, maybe even unusual. B ut two local Baptist churches have moved beyond selfishness to provide a bigger and better experience for their congregations as they joined together to hold their annual Vacation Bible Schools.
Corinth Baptist Church and Salemburg Baptist Church were facing small numbers and struggled to find enough teachers for their Bible schools. Corinth member Lesia Henderson began to pray and ponder what to do as she thought and planned for Bible school this year.
“It came to me that if we could find another church in a similar situation as we were in, we could combine and have a better Vacation Bible School. I began to pray and I learned that Salemburg was in a similar situation. We got together and decided to have a joint school. It is amazing to see how it has all come together as we have united to form one larger Bible school where we have had up to 100 participants from both churches combined,” asserted the coordinator.
Henderson and her committee chose to use a 2011 Bible School theme to save money because the curriculum materials were last year’s. The theme for the Bible School was Hometown Nazareth: Where Jesus was a kid. The Bible school was not just open for the children but for everyone from both churches. The coordinator expressed how pleased she was to see how the two churches had worked out any problem to become one unified school enhancing the gospel of Christ.
“This is what being a Christian is all about,” stated Salemburg Baptist pastor, the Rev. John Adams. “This unity in service to God is what we, as Christians, should be doing. Working together in Christian love and fellowship to set the example to others. They see that we can come together and unite to spread God’s word might even inspire them to do the same. This joint Bible school is the epitome of Christian fellowship,” asserted Adams.
The Rev. Tom Fortner, pastor of Corinth Baptist Church, expressed much he same feelings as Adams.
“We are so pleased to have so many people participate from both of the churches. We have joined together with other churches in the past for fall festivals. This is just a spectacular effort between the two churches. Lesia has done an excellent job coordinating between the churches as we seek to share God’s kingdom,” remarked Fortner.
Henderson shared that this year’s Bible School was one of the most relaxed and less stressful that she had been involved.
“The curriculum this year allows for everyone to be grouped in a tribe. Everyone is not divided by age so we have some in the tribe that are adults, some teenagers and children. Because we are using the Nazareth theme, we are attempting to have everyone dress in attire from the time when Jesus was a young boy. We have a market place, Mary’s home and tribe meetings. It has all worked amazingly well,” expressed Henderson.
The Nazareth Market Place has a carpentry shop, olive oil shop, bead bazaar, farmer’s field market, and a food market. The children are given shekels to spend at the market each day and they can buy fruits, nuts and bread among the many items available.
Mary’s house is also decorated to represent a typical house from the time of Jesus, and Mary tells the attendees her story. As the students travel to the market place, the merchants will discuss with the students what they have learned.
“It is amazing to hear the children discuss with the merchants. They even argue their belief in Mary’s story when questioned that the merchant feels uncertain of the truth. The children also have a time to express their experiences during the celebration of worship each day,” explained Henderson.
The entire Bible school is set up to help the children develop a sense of what it was like to live as Jesus did as a child.
The celebration time is representative of temple worship of Jesus’ day. The tribal time is reminiscent of the 12 tribes of Israel although because of numbers, Henderson only has six tribes. Each tribe has a time of Bible story time and Bible verse time each day. The stories and verses focus on the day’s theme which include: Jesus had a friend, we do too; Jesus has a name, we do too; Jesus went to church, we do too; and Jesus served others, we do too. The Nazareth Market Place offers an experience of what it could have been like for Jesus to visit the market and buy food an look into the various activities that took place there. At Mary’s home, the students learn about her story and how the house where Jesus grew up could have been like. Fun and games were a part of Jesus’ life and the children also had a time for games and fun.
Each night the Vacation Bible School began with supper provided jointly by both churches. Classes were taught by adults from both churches also.
“It has been a truly amazing week with God working through us to show unity in Christian love as we have learned more about Jesus and his early life. It has been a blessing to see how two churches can come together and serve the lord to further his kingdom. We are so thankful to him for his graciousness in allowing us to experience such a wonderful united spirit,” remarked Henderson.