Tallahassee Churches to Hold Citywide Virtual Vacation Bible School

JP Linton, minister of music and families at Seminole Baptist Church, speaks to ministry leaders gathered in Panama City, Fla., for the Florida Baptist Convention’s VBS Training Feb. 22. Linton is one of the Tallahassee area leaders hosting a citywide virtual VBS. Photo by Jenny Whitaker

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The vision at Bradfordville First Baptist Church is to make disciples who love upward, inward and outward. And this summer, the “outward” component of that vision will take on new meaning.

“Everything we do funnels through that vision and Vacation Bible School is a huge part of that,” said Jenny Whitaker, children and family ministry director at Bradfordville FBC.

As she began hearing about local churches canceling VBS or, at best, being in limbo due to the COVID-19 crisis, the wheels began turning.

“Every time someone said it [that they may have to cancel VBS], it just broke my heart,” she said. “And I thought that there had to be a way for us to share this burden, to lean in and bear one another’s burdens together as ministry leaders.”

Last year Bradfordville FBC hosted about 300 kids for VBS. This year, they could reach thousands, with the help of other Tallahassee-area churches, including Morningside Church, Celebration Baptist Church, First Baptist Church Tallahassee and Seminole Baptist Church.

Kids ministry leaders from these churches will build connections with local families and congregations and invite them to participate in LifeWay’s 2020 VBS, themed “Concrete & Cranes,” which will be livestreamed on a “VBS Tallahassee” website June 15-19.

“We began to dream together about what could happen in our community,” Whitaker said. “Not just as a way to present the Gospel and reach kids for Christ, but to do it in a way that we connect with our city and the kids who have been disconnected for so long.”

The effort already has 20 local congregations (partner churches) spanning multiple denominations registered to participate, including 17 in Tallahassee and three others in the North Florida region. The VBS Tallahassee Facebook Group has more than 300 members.

“We’ve done little advertising at this point, so this is all a result of word of mouth,” Whitaker said. “We anticipate these numbers will steadily increase as we encourage registration and do some focused ads to reach our demographics.”

Jamie Pafford, children and families pastor at Morningside Church, said that along with dreaming comes trusting.

“We realized very quickly that we were not in control of this process,” he said. “And naturally what we would do in any situation is call on God first. That’s what we did, and we’ve been trusting Him along the way to give us direction.”

Whitaker added that the virtual VBS helps fill a need for local parents, since many local camps are cancelled for the summer, and there’s a “big hole in summer children’s programming.”

She said that even though kids will be participating from their homes, the citywide virtual VBS still provides a connection — one formed through simultaneous activities and common experiences to share outside of their homes.

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Source: Baptist Press