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Themes vary at local churches, but each is prepared for excitement at vacation Bible school
Pam Jovaag puts a palm tree together inside Good Shepherd Lutheran Church on Thursday while decorating for vacation Bible school. The decorations are meant to look like ancient Rome. - photo by SARA GUEVARA
Vacation Bible schools: A list of local churches' vacation Bible schools, including themes, times and dates.

Weeks ago, church volunteers began painting, building sets and preparing for groups of children who would come through their doors.

Yes, it's time for vacation Bible school at local churches.

Some VBS themes this summer include Journey to Rome, A Passport to the Promised Land and Wildwood Forest.

The Journey to Rome: Paul and the Underground Church-themed VBS is offered by Good Shepherd Lutheran and will kick off on Sunday.

"Each day they will also visit Paul (the Rev. Ben Haupt), and he is going to be chained to Brutus," said Pam Jovaag, a volunteer with Good Shepherd Lutheran. "This is when Paul went to Rome and he was under house arrest. So he was not actually in prison, but he was confined to a house and Brutus. ... At the culmination of the week, Brutus becomes a Christian."

Jovaag said that VBS at Good Shepherd is organized a little different than at other local churches. The children are divided into groups or families of varying ages.

"We're going to have eight family leaders," said Jovaag, who expects between 60 and 70 children to attend. "We'll all be together first for music and welcome, and then they will go to their family time and do their Bible study. Then they go to the Marketplace, and they will do a craft each day, so they'll go to different shops and then the dramas will happen in the Marketplace."

On Thursday, Good Shepherd volunteers were putting the finishing touches on the sets, which took about 15 volunteers and a couple of weeks to complete.

"They painted everything themselves, and it took about three days to paint the main scenes," Jovaag said.

Other activities children, ages preschool through fifth grade, will participate in are gramatica school, woodworking and baking bread daily.

At Gillsville Baptist Church, church members get the entire family involved in the VBS experience. Infants to adults are welcome at the weeklong VBS that begins on June 14.

"I think it's a great outreach ministry to the kids; a lot of kids don't get all the love and care at home, and it's a way to do that," said Jennifer Webb, director of VBS at Gillsville Baptist. "There's going to be a learning lab, simple science experiments, Bible stories, crafts, music."

The theme for Bible school at Gillsville Baptist is Wildwood Forest, and it will focus on wild events in the Bible like the fiery furnace, Gideon's fight and the birth of Jesus. Activities for parents include nightly speakers.

"We have a different guest coming each night of the week," said Webb, who said there were about 125 attendees last year. "Everyone comes at 6 p.m., we have dinner and at 6:30 p.m. Bible school starts."

First United Methodist is planning Crocodile Dock, which is bayou-themed and will teach students about how God works to care and protect his children.

And to go along with the theme, the church will offer classes for children with special needs.

"We are reaching out to families with children with special needs," said Laura Haynes, communication director at the church. "Those children who may not get a chance to attend otherwise ... there will be staff on hand for those children."

First United Methodist's VBS will be June 15-19 for children kindergarten through fifth grade.

"We would like them to register as soon as possible, that helps us to plan," Haynes said. "You can register online or by coming to the church office or Sunday morning in the Gathering Room."

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