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Why is it called “Vacation” Bible School?

August 16, 2009

We had the Vacation Bible School program in our church service this morning.  These programs are such fun to watch.  The enthusiasm of the kids as they sing the songs they learned during the week is so contagious.

Singing in Sunday Morning Service

Singing in Sunday Morning Service

While I was enjoying listening to the children sing, I began wondering why these annual events are called “Vacation” Bible School so I did what I usually do when I don’t know the answer to something, I “googled it”.

History of Vacation Bible School

Wikipedia has a brief history of VBS.  The first VBS was held in Hopedale, Illinois in 1894 (don’t you love that the name of the town was “Hope”dale?). D.T. Miles, a public school teacher who was also a Sunday School teacher, felt she didn’t have enough time to teach the children the Bible so she started a daily Bible school that lasted four weeks. She used a local school and a nearby park. Then in 1898, Eliza Hawes started an “Everyday Bible School” for children living in the slums at a rented beer parlor in New York’s East Side. Hawes continued this for the next seven  years.

Dr. Robert Boville, of the Baptist Mission Society, heard about Hawes work and recommended other Baptist churches to start one. He actually started a few such schools and got students at the Union Theological Seminary to teach in the schools. They had over 1000 students during one summer. In 1922, he founded the World Association of Daily Vacation Bible School.

Still Making a Difference

This approach to teaching our children God’s Word is still effective, at least at my church.  We had over 45 children attend our Vacation Bible School.  I got a chance to visit VBS  and as expected, all the kids were eagerly joining in the festivities but it isn’t just the children that find VBS rewarding.  The highlight of the morning service was listening to the Director, Cyndi Owens, tell our church how the week blessed her.  She is already making plans for next year!  Somehow that is what I bet D.T. Miles and Eliza Hawes felt like when they finished their schools as well.

Kayli volunteering her time at VBS

Kayli volunteering her time at VBS

Thank you Cyndi and all the other volunteers for giving of your time this week.

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 20, 2009 5:26 AM

    Great job Jennifer! I never knew VBS had such a history behind it.

    In years past our church has done a neighborhood VBS program for all the kids in their area. Various families from throughout the region run the program for two weeks from their home. It was very successful and became a great way to get to know all the kids from the area.

    This year however my wife and I have been so involved with the opening of our new satellite church that we missed allot of the summer programs. The best news however, is that our kids are helping at church now too, and that makes up for whatever we’ve missed.

    -God bless

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