By Lindsay Peyton

Secret Bunnies are hopping into action at Lakeside UMC, located south of Atascocita. The fourth and fifth graders in the BL45T ministry group will gather by nightfall, don bunny masks and hide eggs in the yards of neighbors and friends. Before taking off, a sign is left on the door reading, “You’ve been egged!”

The note continues: “Around your yard so green (or brown!) eggs filled with treats lay in wait. With careful eyes they can be found, and we promise the reward is great! Now it’s your turn to spread some Easter cheer. A few more houses far or near!”

“You’re supposed to keep it going,” explained Sara Walsh, Coordinator of Family Ministries and Director of Little Learners Day School.

This is the second year of the Secret Bunny operation. The church hosts similar programs at Christmas (You’ve been elfed!) and Halloween (You’ve been booed!).

Walsh decided to extend the fun into Easter – and she was confident that the BL45T kids would be up for the challenge. The children create a list of friends to surprise – and they spend hours stuffing the eggs. Walsh asks them to include a verse of Scripture or words of encouragement, along with the candy.

Next, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., they will all ride together with a volunteer mom behind the wheel, as they make the rounds to friends’ houses. “It’s just a fun event for fellowship,” Walsh said.

She explained that the BL45T group began about five years ago. The age group was too old for children’s church service, yet not quite ready for the youth group, which starts in sixth grade.

“We were starting to lose those families,” Walsh said. She started BL45T to do something about it.

“Once we made that class, we saw that we were holding onto the families,” Walsh said. “The fourth and fifth graders needed their own space and identity. Now they are super excited to come to church, and sometimes, they are the motivation for their parents to come too.”

The group balances service activities and outreach with fun throughout the year. Walsh considers this a step towards preparing parents to prepare them for greater mission opportunities in youth ministry.

She is always on the hunt for a creative way to engage youth of all ages at church. For instance, this year, she is organizing a “Resurrection Scavenger Hunt” for Saturday, April 8.

All church families are invited. Participating youth and their parents receive verses of Scripture that are actually clues. “They will read through it together, dissect it, have a family discussion,” Walsh said.

The Scripture will lead them to a location. Once the family finds it, they will post a selfie at the spot. The first family to find all of the places in the scavenger hunt wins a prize.

Both the scavenger hunt and Secret Bunnies demonstrate the importance of fellowship, Walsh said. “And it doesn’t have to be at church,” she said. “It builds their relationships with each other.”

Walsh said the car is filled with giggles when the BL45T kids finish hiding eggs for Secret Bunnies. “There’s a lot of laughter and being silly,” she said. “And it creates a lot of memories.” “We emphasize the church family,” Walsh added. “Families have fun together. That’s how you build a bond.”