Now that the “dust has settled” following our big week of Vacation Bible School, I wanted to share a few personal thoughts. I think it is good practice after events like this to take a few moments and reflect. I hope these are encouraging to you, as they are comforting to me when I stop and think back over years gone by.
First, I want to recap and update the attendance numbers for our week. This supplements the information published in last week’s Bulletin: Sunday-176, Monday-192, Tuesday-176, Wednesday-194, Thursday-181, and Friday-168. The attendance for Wednesday evening constitutes a new VBS record for us here at Central, and I want to thank every one who had any part in supporting our VBS. That especially includes Chris and Joann Floyd, and all those who attended planning meetings, invited others, taught classes, brought food and supplies, worked extra hours at the church building, and generally came and supported the week. Your efforts will have a positive impact on the lives of young people for years to come.
I am saddened to hear that some congregations no longer have Vacation Bible School. I suspect the ones who made that decision do not share some of the memories I’m going to express in this article. I believe that VBS has done enormous good over the history of the Lord’s church, and will continue to do so.
I remember attending VBS every year as a child. My parents were very conscientious to make sure they brought us, as well as all of the children in the neighborhood they could round up. People think I am exaggerating when I tell them that my folks crammed 14 little kids into a Volkswagen bug, and headed for VBS. Of course, that was in the days before seatbelts, airbags and squeamish traffic regulators.
VBS in those days was usually in the daytime, and lasted all week. There were not a lot of younger adult men present, because they were at work, other than the shift workers who gave up their sleep time like my dad. There were a lot of ladies helping to teach and serving refreshments. The refreshments were always the same—cookies and Kool-Aid—no bottled water! There was a lot of singing and excitement. I remember songs like, “I’m in the Lord’s Army!” “Booster, Booster, Be a Booster!” “Deep and Wide” “Zacchaeus” “This Little Light of Mine” and “The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock.” I remember crowded classrooms (We can relate to that here), and Bible crafts, awards, and pocket New Testaments being given out for learning and memorizing Scripture. I still have some of them, which I treasure. Some of them might have little notes or messages in them from teachers. There was always a loud, male song leader like Chris Floyd who knew how to get the children excited. Back in Woodbridge, VA it was Bob Swartwood, Clifford Lyons or Delbert Goins. I remember door-knocking, inviting families to VBS. Then we would send vehicles through the neighborhoods to pick up the children each day.
In short, it was a thrilling time for the young people, who were being taught to envision a hopeful future for the church of which they were to be an important part. We didn’t know it, but we were making memories that would last throughout our lives. I’m glad the Lord allowed us to do that! And I am glad to see such emphasis still being placed upon VBS.
My thanks to Francis Shively for submitting the above photograph of an early VBS when the church in Martinsburg met on Wilson, Street. I am told that there were 200 in attendance!
-by Robert C. Veil, Jr.