by Lisa Tome
Vacation Bible School changed Donna Barr's life.
Three years ago, Barr, of Port Deposit, started attending New Life Faith Center after her grandson went to Vacation Bible School there.
"My grandson was coming to VBS in the (church) van. I asked them if he could come to Sunday School," said Barr. Church Pastor Larry Johnson then invited Barr to also ride along. Now Barr volunteers at VBS with the arts and crafts. She also is an active church volunteer and member year round.
"I try to do what I can, but I know it's not enough," said Barr. "I feel at home here. It's like my family. I feel so welcome and loved. Now the church is part of me."
Barr is one of about 45 adults and teens who volunteered at the New Life Faith Center annual Vacation Bible School, which was held recently.
Planning to host VBS takes months, explained the church's associate pastor, and VBS coordinator Shawn Johnson. Fundraising for VBS started last year. Johnson said it costs about $1,000 per day for each of the five days. Church members made and sold chocolate Easter eggs and pumpkin rolls to help pay for VBS.
New Life Faith Center purchased a pre-packaged kit with the theme "Everest - Conquering Challenges with God's Mighty Power." Nearly two months ago, about 15 members of the VBS team went to training about the theme to maximize the experience for the attendees.
Activities included nightly singing and a skit for the entire VBS, Bible lessons, games, movies, and arts and crafts. About 70 children, from ages 2-12, attended from Perryville, Port Deposit, and Rising Sun. Van transportation was provided for those that needed it.
One night of the Bible School, Tuesday, was cancelled due to weather. Shawn Johnson said that the church had a generator on standby for Wednesday. Power was restored two hours before Bible School was set to start.
There was a nightly offering and a penny challenge. Those funds will be used to support missions in India.
Lessons included God has the power to comfort, provide, heal, forgive, and more.
"We want to make sure every kid has an unforgettable experience week. Some kids say this is their vacation. We want to connect with them," said Johnson.