By LINDA M. LINONIS
2Simply put, vacation Bible school rocked. The five-day program, hosted this week, was sponsored by five Girard churches of different denominations at St. Rose School, 61 E. Main St.
Now in its fifth year, the VBS is a collaborative effort of First Baptist Church with Pastor Burl Jeringan, First Chrisian (Disciples of Christ) with Pastor Ron Maurer, First United Methodist with the Rev. Betsy Schenk, St. Rose Catholic Church with Monsignor John Zuraw and Trinity Evangelical Lutheran with the Rev. Rhonda Gallagher.
Stacey Durig and Nicole Melfi are VBS co-directors; both are teachers at St. Rose. They oversaw a program that attracted 145 children from preschool to sixth grade and some 50 adult and youth volunteers from the sponsoring churches.
Melfi outlined the goals of the program — for children to learn something new each day, have fun, work together and grow in faith. The program ran from 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday, this past week. A picnic for 250 children and parents culminated the program on Friday. Activities included Bible stories, recreational games, music and crafts.
Each church took responsibility for a day of Bible school. Other areas also were assigned — music by First Baptist, crafts by First United Methodist, preschool and recreation by St. Rose and kitchen by Trinity Lutheran. First Christian fills in where needed.
Supervising age groups were Dominique Valley, preschool; Barb Tyndall, kindergarten; Denise DelTondo, first and second grades; Judy Petrarca and Lia Byrne, third and fourth; and Treasure and James Johnston, fifth and sixth.
The Rev. Ms. Schenk said the community VBS began in 2009. The previous year, churches in Girard Ministerial Association discussed the possibility of program.
“It’s a wonderful melding of the community,” she said, adding it demonstrates terrific cooperation.
By working together, the churches can do more in the program. “It uses talents for the good of the community,” Ms. Schenk said, noting the children benefit.
The minister said the churches jointly participate in a Girard prayer walk and National Day of Prayer. “As we get to know one another, we find out we’re not all that different,” the minister said. These relationships, she said, help build a better community overall.
Pastor Gallagher said, “This allows us to be a presence in the community ... under one God.”
She continued that smaller churches are challenged to sponsor a VBS because it’s difficult to provide activities for all ages.
“Here, it’s easier to make things age appropriate and hold their interest.”
Pastor Jeringan said it shows the strength of the community to come together to “be of service to God and the city.”
He also noted it was good for the children to meet others of different faiths and realize they attend church.
“Pooling resources of time, talent and treasure makes it work,” said Monsignor Zuraw, noting something might be missed if each did it alone.
He said the VBS was an avenue for people of different faiths “to give praise to God” as a group. “It’s a visible sign of the importance of instilling faith at an early age.”
Bible school, he said, “makes faith fun.”
Monsignor said the theme, “Kingdom Rock,” addresses the presence of the kingdom of God on earth and what it means to every child, teen and adult to be a part of it.
He added that the VBS “connects the community in the public and religious sector.”