Jerimiah Lyles knows his Bible.
At vacation Bible school earlier this week at Ninth Street Missionary Baptist Church, the 13-year-old led the charge as a church helper asked Jerimiah and other teen-agers in the group questions about God's love. Jerimiah eagerly raised his hand to answer the teacher's questions, volunteering so many times that she finally asked him to give the others a chance.
Jerimiah has been attending VBS at Ninth Street Baptist for three years.
Even though he goes to church and Sunday school, vacation Bible school ``teaches me more about God,'' Jerimiah said, explaining why he takes time out from play to go to church for the weeklong activity.
Opening Tuesday's session, VBS leaders used music to spread God's message.
The roughly 100 youngsters proclaimed ``I got nothing but love for you, Jesus,'' clapping their hands to a rap-like rhythm that engulfed the sanctuary.
Vacation Bible school helps ``teach more about God and God's love and helps us reach children and adults who might not normally go to church,'' VBS director Trudy Foster said.
The vacation Bible school at Ninth Street Baptist, dubbed ``Sonlight Island'' from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, is similar to that of many across Lawrence. It offers music, crafts, games and activities -- all focusing on lessons from the Bible.
Trinity Lutheran Church and Trinity Episcopal Church are pairing up to offer vacation Bible school from June 22 to 26.
The Rev. Victoria Brundage from Trinity Lutheran, where the school will meet, said this year's theme is from 1 John 4:19, which teaches ``We love because God first loved us.''
``We do VBS essentially to share the good news of God's love for all children and all people. It's that simple,'' Brundage said.
Volunteers will teach parables each day of the school.
Children will explore the stories through arts and crafts, music and drama.
``They'll be discovering the meaning of those stories in those different ways,'' Brundage said.
Part of the mission of any vacation Bible school is outreach, Brundage noted.
``Anyone can come,'' she said. ``I'm sure we'll have
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a lot of children from the congregations, but we're also hoping to have children from the neighborhood. We hope that everyone will feel welcome to this.''
Judy Davis, an executive assistant at Trinity Episcopal, agreed.
``Vacation Bible school gives children an opportunity to have Christian education in a very different setting. It's geared around music, art and drama. All of it's going to be a fun time. It's geared toward the kind of thing children like to do, which is play.''
Davis stressed the school will be multi-denominational
``We're not going to be talking Lutheran, Episcopal. We're going to be talking about the stories, just the stories,'' she said. ``We're not looking for long-term converts. We just want to provide some of the children with interesting stories from the Bible.''
Fun and fellowship
Vacation Bible school has been an institution at First Christian Church, said Penny Tubbs, director of children's education. Its VBS wrapped up today.
The event reaches out in a nonthreatening way to children who might not regularly attend church, Tubbs said, estimating about 30 percent of the participants every year aren't members.
Though VBS is not intended to be a baby-sitting service, Tubbs said churches know some parents bring their children for that reason.
``We'll get kids any way we can get them,'' Tubbs said. ``Outreach is a big proponent of VBS. It's a real great opportunity for kids of the church to invite their friends who are not a part of the church.''
Putting on vacation Bible school takes a lot of volunteers, noted Sheryl Moore of Mustard Seed Christian Fellowship, which will offer its school 9 a.m. to noon July 6 to 10.
Mustard Seed relies on help from eight head teachers, eight assistant teachers, about five people who lead arts and crafts, four people who help with snacks and others who fill in the gaps in between.
``It's quite a fun week,'' Moore said.
-- Deb Gruver's phone message number is 832-7165. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.