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Vacation Bible schools offer kids life lessons to stay anchored
Local churches prepare themes for longtime summer tradition
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Many churches in Hall County will be hosting vacation Bible schools in the upcoming months. First Presbyterian, pictured, is setting up for its "Shipwrecked" theme. - photo by Layne Saliba

The school year ends soon, and children still have a chance to continue learning throughout the summer by attending vacation Bible school.

Vacation Bible School Options

First Baptist Church Gainesville: “Shipwrecked”

When: 9 a.m. to noon June 4-8

Where: First Baptist Church of Gainesville, 751 Green St. NW, Gainesville

First Presbyterian Church of Gainesville: “Shipwrecked”

When: 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. July 9-13

Where: First Presbyterian Church of Gainesville, 800 S. Enota Ave. SE, Gainesville

Gainesville First United Methodist Church: “Shipwrecked”

When: 9 a.m. to noon June 4-8

Where: Gainesville First United Methodist Church, 2780 Thompson Bridge Road, Gainesville

Grace Episcopal Church: “Wizards and Wonders: A Hero’s Journey with Harry Potter”

When: 9 a.m. to noon June 25-29

Where: Grace Episcopal Church, 422 Brenau Ave., Gainesville

Lakewood Baptist Church: “Game On: Gearing Up For Life’s Big Game!”

When: 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. June 18-22

Where: Lakewood Baptist Church, 2235 Thompson Bridge Road, Gainesville

Most churches don’t start VBS until June, but preparation has been underway since last year. Many churches in Hall, including Gainesville First United Methodist, will follow the theme “Shipwrecked”  this year. It promises to help children “venture onto an uncharted island and learn about the truth” that keeps them “anchored.”

“The theme ‘Shipwrecked’ is a claim that Jesus rescues,” said the Rev. Liz Millar, minister of discipleship at Gainesville FUMC. “And what we’ll do with the kids is they’re going to learn that Jesus rescues them when they’re lost.”

Millar said VBS is a good opportunity for churches to reach children, including those who may not typically go to church, by instructing them for five straight days. It presents different advantages in teaching about the Bible as opposed to the typical weekly gathering on Sundays.

“We put our sign out, and we’re right by the road, so if anybody drives by they can come,” said Ali Thompson, children’s director at First Presbyterian Church of Gainesville, which also will use the “Shipwrecked” theme. “I’ve already gotten a few calls from people in South Hall who want to make sure their kids are invited.”

Millar said churches have those five days of “high-energy” teaching to illustrate one lesson. There’s “less of a gap” between teachings, making it a little easier for children to learn.

Stephanie Eidson, assistant director of children’s ministry at Gainesville FUMC, said VBS is important to her because she still holds fond memories of her time attending when she was young.

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Many churches in Hall County will be hosting vacation Bible schools in the upcoming months. First Presbyterian, pictured, is setting up for its "Shipwrecked" theme. - photo by Layne Saliba

“I remember VBS when I was a child and it was one of my most fun summers when I knew it was coming up,” Eidson said. “I would spend a week with my friends and learn a little more than I already knew.”

The volunteer teachers are able to help teach things a little better because it’s done through “play” and things are a “little more hands on” than usual.

Thompson said everything points back to what they learn throughout the day, too. Everything from games to crafts, even the snacks the children are given, help them recall lessons they’ve been taught.

“They get little Bible buddies that they can take home with them as keychains so they can put them on their backpacks,” Thompson said. “That way, even when they start school in the fall, they still have the remembrance of what they learned.”

First Baptist Church of Gainesville also will use the “Shipwrecked” theme, while Lakewood Baptist Church will be holding a more sports-themed VBS with “Game On: Gearing Up For Life’s Big Game!” Its website says children attending “will realize God has given them his ultimate playbook. He wants them to join his team, train hard, celebrate salvation and encourage one another.”

The most unique VBS in the area might be Grace Episcopal Church’s. Last year, it offered an opportunity for families to come together to learn about and explore a different religion each night. This year, it is host to “Wizards and Wonders: A Hero’s Journey with Harry Potter.”

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Many churches in Hall County will be hosting vacation Bible schools in the upcoming months. First Presbyterian, pictured, is setting up for its "Shipwrecked" theme. - photo by Layne Saliba
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