Historic Black Church in Stockton, California, Uses Vacation Bible School to Open Doors to New Congregants

“caption”: “Elaine Jackson-Sears prepares a crafting activity for the adults at Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church in Stockton on Monday evening during the church’s Vacation Bible School. [JASON PIERCE/FOR THE RECORD]
The Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church is hosting a special Vacation Bible School this week at its historic church in downtown Stockton.

The school is free and open to children and adults. The classes are from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. each evening through June 7 at 132 N. Stanislaus St. on the corner of Stanislaus and Channel streets.

The Vacation Bible School presents an opportunity for the church to open its doors to potential new congregants. There will be Bible study, music, crafts, snacks and instructors in five classes: preschool, primary, juniors, teens and adults.

The children will make shields and capes that will transform them into superheroes protected by their armor of God.

“This is a special effort to bring in more children and adults,” said Reverend Donnell O. Miles, church pastor since November 2014 with his wife, Reverend Ethel R. Miles, First Lady. “We do have a hidden agenda. We are looking for people to enjoy the service and the Vacation Bible School so they might feel that they want to be a part of the service, part of the ministry.

“Here, our goal is to minister that Christ did die for them. It’s an opportunity to show our gratefulness through our worship and our study of the holy scriptures.”

Brenda Fontenot has been a member of the Stockton church since the early 1970s and has served a variety of roles, including superintendent of Bible School. She said the Vacation Bible School is a community involvement program meant to attract children with the hope they become involved with the Sunday School.

“Right now, we don’t have children attending our Sunday School,” she said. “We had a lot of children that attended our Sunday School.”

Fontenot said many of the children who attended Sunday School have grown, gone to college and are professionals elsewhere. Some visit the church occasionally, but they don’t live in Stockton.

Another reason for lower participation is the need for safe, reliable transportation to bring the children to the church.

“If they had some transportation,” Fontenot said, “I think they would be able to come to our Sunday School.”

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Source: Record Net