Mega VBS, Ecumenical Style


Multiple denominations joined forces to host an ecumenical Vacation Bible School in Orange, Tx, and the children of the community are glad they did.


Several churches made headline news in Orange, Tx  as they joined forces to do something special for the kids in the community: presenting a “Mega” VBS in Orange, Tx. More and more, churches are teaming up to provide first class service to their communities. These churches demonstrated what can be accomplished when believers come together as a united team.


 According to Rev. John Warren, First UMC, Orange, “The combined Unity In the Community VBS was held to show the world that we are a cohesive community that works together no matter the race.  Our community does not have a working Ministerial Alliance but we’ve created a Board of Pastors, church leaders, school district representatives and social agencies. First UMC Orange andSalem UMC, a black congregation, have worked together in a weekly soup kitchen "Feed My Sheep" for several years.  Last spring they joined us as well as three other churches in the "Potato Drop" where we distributed 42,000 pounds of potatoes.  Before the last potato left our parking lot we were planning the next food distribution for this November.”


Meanwhile, First UMC Orange and one other church had planned their July VBS when Salem UMC asked them to host the mega VBS.   Adds John, “For the first time in my ministry we had two almost-simultaneous events in July --- a morning and an evening program.  There were 5 churches involved in the planning First UMC Orange, First Nazarene, Faith UMC, Salem UMC and The Church of God.


Leverage Your Opportunities

Summer is an ideal time to Invest in the Young. Churches across the conference have scheduled youth camps, pre-teen camps, children’s camps, youth service days, special Sunday Bible Studies, Wacky Wednesdays, and other activities to keep children engaged and focused on the Lord. The “Mega” VBS theme of Athens centered on the journeys of Paul and the importance of sharing the truth. The four participating Orange churches were First Church of the Nazarene, Salem UMCFirst UMC, Orange and First Church of God. Kudos to First United Methodist Church, Orangefor serving as the host church for this community-wide evening VBS.


Administrative coordinator Nicole Watzlavik says each church identified a youth or children’s minister and lay leader to attend weekly meetings to plan the big event using a model involving two leaders in the classrooms for all ages 5-14. “It was well organized and the first time this many churches were involved,” she says.


Bigger Picture

The churches are doing more than bringing their congregations together for summer activities. Pastors of 14 area churches meet weekly for lunch to discuss their concerns for the community, asking each other, “How can we expect our members to fellowship if their pastors do not?” In an article in the Beaumont Enterprise, one of the pastors says “We start with unity with the community’s clergy.”