GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — This year’s Vacation Bible School (VBS) program looked vastly different compared to previous years, due to COVID-19. But it went off without a hitch, as teams of skilled chaplains and religious education directors worked together to create a complete five week at-home VBS experience for families across the U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria footprint.
From the start, the teams knew they needed to come up with an idea that equipped parents with materials for a 100 percent at-home spiritual formation, according to Jamie Crawford, director of VBS at Chapel Netz.
Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Donald Williamson — who was a community chaplain at USAG Bavaria Garmisch before his PCS — saw great success with his chapel’s Sunday School program. He would dress up as a fictional character and read “Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name,” by Sally Lloyd-Jones, to his young audience. Hence, event organizers said they saw it fit to use a similar model.
The Chapel Netz VBS program decided to adopt the same text by Lloyd-Jones, in order to focus on five “heroes in captivity” — one hero for each week from July 20 to Aug. 17. Meanwhile, the Rose Barracks Protestant Chapel VBS program selected the “Roar VBS” curriculum by Group, from July 8 to Aug. 5. To remain in compliance with COVID-19 safety precautions and physical distancing mitigation, program organizers contacted participating families virtually using Facebook.
While turning their focus to different curriculum, both VBS programs provided families with a plan to read the stories aloud, make crafts, play games, watch videos and embark on weekend adventures that related back to Bible lessons — all from the safety of their homes.
“Our VBS helped families during COVID by providing them a fun, safe and engaging way to strengthen and grow their faith, during a time of uncertainty,” said Jessica Toolin, VBS director for Rose Barracks Protestant Chapel. Feedback indicates that families were provided with “hope for the future.”
The Chapel Netz participation included 76 households with a total of 161 registered children, according to Crawford. And Toolin said the Rose Barracks Protestant Chapel recorded 19 participating households with a total of 26 registered children.
“Perhaps our families have felt like they’ve been trapped, alone or isolated during this pandemic,” said Crawford. “Ultimately, we wanted our families to see that God’s promises are true, God’s plans are good, God’s forgiveness is unlimited and Jesus will make everything better – forever.”
For future opportunities, visit the USAG Bavaria Chaplain Facebook page.