Community Vacation Bible School is returning to Defiance, with a trio of local churches combining their efforts to present Athens, Paul’s Dangerous Journey to Share the Truth VBS, Wednesday-Friday at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church.
This free VBS is for youth in preschool-fifth grade, and will be held each day from 9:30 a.m.-noon at St. Paul’s, located at 400 Wayne Ave. Joining St. Paul’s to present the VBS will be volunteers from St. Paul Lutheran Church and St. John United Church of Christ. The churches have worked together for many years to present a community VBS for youth in Defiance.
Rev. Marcella Ciccotelli of St. Paul’s UMC shared that this VBS is actually a “throwback” to the first community VBS that was held at Defiance College in 2013. The theme that year was also Athens, and several of the high school volunteers that will help this year took part in that first one six years ago.
“The whole theme around the VBS is Paul’s second missionary journey, which is from the Book of Acts (of the Apostles),” said Ciccotelli. “We will follow Paul on his journey ... which is the point, life is a journey and we will present how we can use Paul’s message of hope in Christ in our own lives. When God allows you to create an event like this, it’s so great to see the people who volunteer use their gifts to really shine through for the youth.
“There is so much joy that comes from the kids, and there are so many amazing relationships that are built through this VBS,” added Ciccotelli. “Our youth volunteers were kids when we first did this VBS, they know it so well they could probably run it. We’ll see how it goes ... maybe all of us adults will just be along for the ride.”
Julie Sasseen, director of youth and family at St. Paul Lutheran, shared that the community VBS is all about giving area youth an opportunity to experience Christ. Working together with other churches across denominational lines, according to Sasseen, is also a great way to show, “We are all the church.”
“I really love the experience of the VBS, and the kids who come will get to experience the story from the Bible character’s perspective,” Sasseen said. “This will be presented in a way that the kids will be taken back in time, and by doing it that way, it becomes a very powerful tool to help kids experience Christ, and to build a relationship with Christ.”
“There is a great joy when we work together, and all our volunteers have made so many great friendships over the years,” continued Sasseen. “It’s become so natural for us to partner up, not just for VBS, but other youth events as well. As a group, we are always looking to join together in service of Christ, because when you do that, there are no lines between us, especially not at this event.”
Youth who attend will get the chance to experience Athens’ Marketplace, arena games and learn about Paul’s journey in the daily Bible story. Each day closes with worship and celebration. The Marketplace will feature booths where youth can take coins and purchase materials to do a craft that would be found in Greek culture. Those crafts include pottery, Olympics, scribes, a toy-making shop, a geometry school and more. Music also will be featured throughout.
“It’s a three-day VBS, but if a youth can only make it for one or two days, please come,” said Sasseen. “Any day is a good day to be there.”