Vacation Bible School Still Hallmark of Christian Education

Vacation Bible School is still a very powerful tool for nurturing children phsically, emotionally and spiritually, Religion News Service reported.

Vacation Bible School has been one of the most enduringly popular children's programs in churches.

Tom Bevill, associate professor of marriage and family counseling and religin at the University of Mobile, said "VBS has continued to succeed in making a direct result of spending an intensive period of time in religious study. For some, one week's worth of VBS might be the equivalent of a year's worth of Christian education."

VBS started ina beer parlor on New York City's East Side in the late 1800s. And in 1911, the Daily Vacation Bible School Association was founded.

Margaret Mangham, preschool director for First Baptist Church of Mobile said "I think it's an opportunity to have a concentrated period of time where caring, nurturing adults can share God's love with children."

Mangham, a veteran VBS teacher said she remembers her time at VBS prepared her to make her profession of faith.

"I often see children relaxing when they come to VBS. Also as they gather in a large group, they can see that they are not the only kids interested in God," said Carolyn Hayford, director of vacation Bible school at Northpoint Community Church in the Mobile suburb of Saraland.

At the Saraland church, 10-year-old Jason Brown could hardly keep his seat as he raised his hand to answer questions about the day's Bible story. In another classroom, Alyson Rose Brockmiller, 4, squirmed on a bright orange chair as she colored a worksheet designed to remind children of the story in the Book of Acts about Philip sharing the gospel with an Ethiopian official.

The children said they liked the games and the songs, bible stories and the food.

Also at the end of the one-week long VBS, they dropped their change in big plastic jugs, which is the money for Wheels for the World, used for providing wheelchairs to people in need.

At First Baptist Church on Government Street, kids are offering help a little closer to home. Many of them are painting furniture for the Sunday school rooms.

The kids were learning the rhythm of VBS. They took turns shaking and peering into a relish jar filled with water, oil and blue food coloring combined in such a way as to resemble waves.

Also they sang grace before digging into blueberry Nutri-Grain bars and swigging cartons of juice.

Mangham, retrospecting her years of VBS, said "I remember that time. It was so peaceful."