The pews are pushed together along the walls while in the middle of the sanctuary children play an energetic game of Duck, Duck, Goose. Vacation Bible School (VBS) is in session at Eyebrow Mennonite Church.
For several years, Mennonite Church Saskatchewan has employed a travelling VBS troupe to bring summer Christian education to rural and urban congregations alike.
Emily Hamm, a Canadian Mennonite University student from Wildwood Mennonite Church in Saskatoon, led this year’s troupe, having applied for the job after members of her congregation encouraged her to give it a try.
Although the troupe can accommodate up to seven weeks of VBS, this year it only visited five churches. In addition to Eyebrow, the troupe presented VBS at Osler Mennonite Church, Hanley United Church (co-hosted by Hanley United and local Mennonite churches), Mount Royal Mennonite Church in Saskatoon and Fiske Mennonite Church.
Even though this is the first year Eyebrow Mennonite Church has hosted the troupe, VBS has been an annual event for the congregation. Pastor Sharon Schultz said that, although the church is small, it offers VBS each summer as a ministry to the community. Some children who have attended VBS in previous years have begun attending Sunday school at the church during the winter months. “It’s a form of outreach for us,” she said.
VBS is outreach in the guise of fun,” said Hamm. “One of the goals of the VBS troupe is to get kids who don’t necessarily attend church regularly to associate being in church with having fun.” A typical day at VBS includes worship, singing, prayer, hearing Bible stories, doing crafts, playing outside and having snacks.
But it isn’t all fun and games. Hamm and her troupe can attest to the chal-
lenges. “Some kids are troubled, loud or antsy, and you want to help them focus and be quiet, but still encourage them to express themselves,” said Hamm. “It’s challenging to find a balance between encouraging self-expression and encouraging them to be quiet.”
And there are rewards along with the challenges. Witnessing the growth of faith in young children is one of them. “It’s really cool to hear a six-year-old say, ‘I think this is what that story means,’” Hamm said.
She spoke of “meeting kids who come from different places and have different struggles, but are making their voices heard. It’s really cool seeing faith through the eyes of someone really young and comparing it to your own faith.” Hamm noted that, as she has seen faith grow in the lives of the children, her own faith has grown as well.
--Posted August 22, 2014