The Buzz of Northwest Georgia
New glitz, same message as area church congregations prepare the 2013 edition of Vacation Bible School -- with a twist or two
The Enterprise served as the focus of the 2010 Vacation Bible School series at Pleasant Valley South Baptist Church. As children's minister the Rev. Chris Giddens says: “Vacation Bible School is cool. It’s a good mix of tradition and new ideas. Everyone remembers VBS as a kid, now it’s ‘VBS zilla’…all the old fun with new awesomeness on top.”
By Natalie Simms
As the days tick closer to summer, many local churches are gearing up for one of their biggest events of the year…Vacation Bible School.
It’s a popular church event that seems to have been around forever. If you’ve grown up in the ‘Bible Belt’ of the South, you probably have attended VBS at some point in your childhood. It’s a fun time of arts, crafts, Bible stories and games. And even in our modern age, VBS continues to be popular with local children.
Because of the popularity and the opportunity it presents for local churches to reach out into the community, several churches are expanding their VBS events this year.
For the first time in a number of years, First Baptist Church of Rome is opening up their VBS to the entire community for students rising to Kindergarten through sixth grade completed.
“We have a much broader scope this year,” says Sherri Dickens, minister of Faith Development at FBC Rome. “Before, we focused just on Pre-K to second graders. But this year, we’re opening it up to the community. It really is a primary tool in children’s ministry for outreach.”
This is Dickens first summer with FBC Rome and her hope is to reach more children through VBS. The church will host the “Everywhere Fun Fair” VBS from June 10-14 from 9 a.m. until noon. Registration is available on the church website at fbcrome.org.
“Vacation Bible School is the highlight of our year. It is where we have the most opportunity for Bible learning…we have kids for 15 hours that week…a good time for learning and building relationships with the community. It is just as important as anything else we do,” she says. “I always say ‘summertime is Vacation Bible School time.’”
For the Rev. Chris Giddens, Children’s Minister at Pleasant Valley South Baptist Church in Silver Creek, this marks his 10th year of coordinating VBS at the church. Each year, he seeks to make it an event the children will remember.
“In my view, it’s one of the most important programs. It reaches out to kids and families in the community with the Good News. It gives opportunities for all age groups to minister to the youngest generation. It’s an open door ministry for all kids to come and have fun, and learn the truth of Christ,” he says.
Pleasant Valley has one of the largest VBS programs in the area with an average attendance of 450 children and workers. Last year hit a high with 480.
“Vacation Bible School is cool. It’s a good mix of tradition and new ideas. Everyone remembers VBS as a kid, now it’s ‘VBS zilla’…all the old fun with new awesomeness on top,” Giddens says. “What struck me one year: A volunteer came up to me crying and she said, ‘I know the kids in my group, none of their families can afford a big vacation to a Disney-type place, so we made one for them and they’re learning about God.’”
Giddens puts in countless hours in preparation for VBS, including turning the church’s sanctuary into a scene set integrating the VBS theme. This year, Pleasant Valley will host “Kingdom Rock: Where Kids Stand Strong for God” on June 3-6 from 6-8:30 p.m. for preschool (ages 3-5) and students in first-fifth grades.
“The theme is integrated with the curriculum you chose. Modern VBS programs weave teaching and important points within the theme to make the ideas easy to grasp,” he says.
“My process in the creative aspect (decor) begins as soon as the theme is decided upon. I actually start sketching and doodling ideas for VBS and keep them in a sketchbook. Once the main idea is developed, I usually hit after Halloween and Christmas clearance if there’s any items that will fit. If you’re VBS director or Children’s Minister, you have to be on the lookout. We reuse and re-purpose as much as we can from years before.”
Giddens and volunteers spend weeks working on set building and décor for VBS, not only for the sanctuary but for hallways and welcome areas.
“One may question why we put so much into decorations, and trust me I get it. But when a kid walks in and they’re amazed for a moment and transported for an instant to a new environment, you have the opportunity to share something with them in that moment of attention. They’re interested. The worst thing is to be ‘cheesy.’ Kids can smell that a mile away,” he says.
Going forward, Giddens believes the key to keeping kids excited about VBS is to have leaders who are just as excited.
“Kids get excited when their leaders are excited... It’s your opportunity to really shine as a church. Not for price or selfishness, but to really shine in sharing the Message with kids. It’s not some lure or bait, it’s just time to say to families, we’ve gone the extra mile to make this an amazing fun time to share with your kids,” he says.
“Make VBS a priority. Put a lot of prayer and hard work in it and you’ll see amazing things happen. As a leader, folks get jazzed about what you get jazzed about. Our folks know Mr. Chris loves him some VBS.”
- A listing of local VBS programs can be found on Rome Kids.
- To add your church’s VBS listing, click Email (please use the same format as used on Rome Kids. No PDFs, please).
Johnny's still cookin' as massive face lift continues
Photo by Jack Druckenmiller
In March, Bob Blumberg and staff celebrated three years of Johnny's New York Style Pizza at 233 Broad St. The opening followed a massive redesign of the former antiques store, creating one of downtown Rome's largest restaurants and bars. Now Blumberg is moving up -- stories, that is -- as the second phase is well under way. Check the returning windows to the second floor above the main entrance. Johnny's remains open throughout the upgrade. The "old" look, if you will, is below in this photo from Johnny's website. Call it the "no windows look."
Consider it the battle of the butts
-Greater Rome is known for a number of dining-for-charity events, from the Knights of Columbus Labor Day Barbecue to the Empty Bowls dinner to those mouth-watering pancakes and sausage served by the Noon Optimist Club the Saturday before Thanksgiving.
-The smaller benefits also add up to a lot of generosity from the community. And then there's this weekend when you have one of three chances -- are all three chances -- to help local groups just by buying a butt. Boston Butt, that is. Consider;
The 2013 Memorial Day Rome Middle School Football Boston Butt Sale is set for 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. at Home Depot off Hicks Drive. Boston Butts and ribs will be ready as well as plates for sale. The butts are $25 and ribs are $20. Proceeds benefit the RMS football program.
-May 24: Fairview School
Third Annual Barbecue to benefit the restoration of the Fairview First Grade School Building, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. This one features "Barbecue by Kinnebrew" with butts selling for $25 and ribs for $20. Details.
-May 25: Tickets on sale for Habitat for Humanity's Annual Boston Butt sale Memorial Day weekend. You can purchase tickets at the ReStore, the Habitat Office and from board members. Butts will be ready to be picked up on May 25 from 10 a.m. until noon at Central Plaza. Price: $25. Details: (706) 378-0030.
Rome RiverCats seek community support as baseball season continues
-This letter is going out to friends and relatives of the 8-and-under team as the RiverCats prepare to advance in the regional, state and national tournaments. It reads: "In order to help the team, we are taking part in a fundraiser entitled 20/20. Our family’s responsibility is to mail 20 letters to 20 different people who could possibly donate $20 or more to our baseball team. Even if you can’t give $20, any donation is greatly appreciated. You can make checks out to Rome RiverCats and on the “For” line of the check, be sure to put the player’s name so he will get credit for the donation. We have a full summer of baseball ahead of us with several big out-of-town tournaments; for instance, district, state and ending in Pensacola for the World Series. Again, we are sincerely grateful for any support that you are able to give to the Rome RiverCats 8u Baseball Team. Gratefully, RiverCats Players & Families. You can make the check out to the Rome RiverCats, send your donations to 32 Windmill Drive SE Silver Creek, Ga., 30173.