Pastor’s Desk June 3rd

Scripture Passage:  And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.  But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God.  Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.”  And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.  Mark 10:13-16
Dear Friends,
     For as long as I can remember, June has marked the time for Vacation Bible School.  I cannot remember a time in my fifty-seven years that I did not attend, lead music in, or teach in Vacation Bible School. We began outside and marched into the sanctuary to “Onward, Christian Soldiers.”  Once everyone was in we began opening ceremonies which was a big deal.  We did the pledge to the American flag and then sang “America.”  We then said the pledge to the Christian flag and sang, “Onward Christian Soldiers.”  We pledged allegiance to the Bible and sang, The “B-I-B-L-E.”  We had Scripture reading and then prayer and dismissed to go to our classes.  I do not remember decorations being as elaborate as they are today, but I do remember some posters and pictures hanging on the wall.  There was lesson time, music time, craft time, and snack time and recess.  Snacks were always cookies and red Kool-Aid and if you were really good, you got to have seconds.  (Ask me how I know.)  I remember learning The B-I-B-L-E, Deep and Wide, House Upon the Rock, The Lord’s Army, and The Devil Is A Sly Old Fox in VBS and I still teach them to my grandchildren today.  My youngest daughter, Emily, was saved at Vacation Bible School so I know it has an eternal impact upon the Kingdom of God as well as families.
     I have often wondered how and where VBS originated, so I did a little research on the subject.  One of the earliest accounts occurred in Hopedale, Illinois in 1894.  A public school teacher named D.T. Miles started a daily Bible school so she could teach children during the summer.  She felt she was always limited by time constraints when teaching the Bible to her students, so a summer school gave her ample time to do it effectively.  The first Bible school enrolled forty students and was held in a local school and lasted four weeks.  A nearby park was available for recess.  Another “Everyday Bible School” was held in New York City by Virginia Sinclair Hawes in 1898.  She was the director of the children’s department at Epiphany Baptist Church in New York.  The strange thing about this VBS was that she rented a beer parlor on New York’s east side so neighborhood children could attend.  I would say this is the first account of a Backyard Bible School recorded in Baptist history.  (They did not serve beer for refreshments.)  Her hometown church of First Baptist Church Charlottesville, Virginia has a bronze plaque in the foyer honoring her efforts.
     Every VBS is unique and special in its own way.  With the decorations, music and curriculum that is available today every VBS is a special experience for all those who attend.  The greatest accomplishment that occurs is that the Word of God is planted in the young hearts and minds of the children and it begins to grow and bring forth fruit.  Many children come to commit their lives to Christ during this time while others ground themselves deeper in the Word and their relationship to Christ.  I am expecting great things this year because we serve a Great God.
In Christ,
Pastor Johnny