In a small church, sometimes it's a challenge to hold and organize a large event like Vacation Bible School. This year, Upper Columbia Conference decided to do something to help their small churches hold these important community outreach events.
Patty Marsh, UCC children's ministries director, and Richard Parker, UCC youth director, teamed up to create a traveling VBS team. The team was made up of four young people who committed their summer to helping small and midsized churches put on VBS programs. The troupe, called His Travelers, included Bob Gable, Shalice Gross, Blair Lemke and Sierra Walley. The team also provided support for a weeklong, all-day Kids Camp for Native American children at the All Nations Center Adventist Church in Wapato, Wash.
After a week's training, His Travelers spent the following seven weeks working with a different church each week. Throughout the summer they watched as small churches rallied together and worked valiantly to put on a meaningful, Christ-centered program for the children in their towns.
When not conducting the VBS program, His Travelers spent time with church members praying for and reaching out to the community. They worked on community service projects, mentored and encouraged young people and went door to door inviting people to the VBS program.
Following a VBS program in Sandpoint, Idaho, the parents of the children who attended were invited to a fellowship lunch on Friday. Nearly 50 people ate lunch and shared in fellowship. Many parents voiced their extreme gratitude to His Travelers and the church for putting on such a quality program.
Each VBS of the summer featured a service project. One church was raising money to buy coats for children living on Indian reservations in North and South Dakota. Each child received a blue plastic cup with a penguin drawn on it. His Travelers encouraged them to collect money and bring it in the cups. On the third day of VBS, one little girl's mother anxiously pulled a VBS team member aside to ask her when the money was going to be collected.
"Emily has been saving her allowance for two years," she explained, "and today, she brought all of it in to give to the children in the Dakotas."
When the team had a chance to see Emily's penguin cup, it was stuffed to the brim with bills, and heavy with coins!
It was a good summer for His Travelers and all the churches they worked with. You can read more about His Travelers' summer journey on Facebook. Just search for His Travelers.