by Lisa Tome
After more than a half century of hosting Vacation Bible School, Baldwin United Methodist Church took a year off to rebuild.
The longstanding day time Vacation Bible School was open for business last week.
On Sunday, December 6, 2015, an early morning fire ripped through the church. The fire went to two alarms and was later ruled as arson by investigators from the Office of the State Fire Marshal.
"We took last year off," said Susan McGrady, who was tapped to direct the VBS this year. "We have about 20 kids. The theme is God's Heroes. We got it (the curriculum) for Cokesbury (UMC in Port Deposit)."
"It was really strange having the year off,” said McGrady, who has volunteered at the Baldwin VBS for about 35 years. In the wake of the fire and during rebuilding, the church held services at Singerly Fire Company's Station 13. "We didn't want to do VBS at the fire hall. And this year, we didn't really advertise it much. We want to rebuild and see how it goes," said McGrady. McGrady was doing double duty - overseeing the entire VBS and also teaching middle school aged children their lessons. On Wednesday, that class was making super hero models out of clay.
Ryan Lovett, 14, was one of those who attended VBS last week. "I've been coming here for a long time and I missed it last year. I like coming here and talking to my friends and learning about God," said Lovett.
The VBS includes opening exercises with singing and prayer, crafts, Bible lessons, outside time and more.
About 12 volunteers staffed the Bible school. Some of those helpers were in the kitchen.
Baldwin serves meals during VBS. Sue Watson, who was manning the kitchen, said that the menu included chicken nuggets, pizza, hot dogs, sloppy joes, watermelon, cookies and more. Watson said that the new kitchen at the church is a big improvement over the old model. "They come here hungry. It's early in the morning when they get here. They leave well fed," said Watson.
The late Phyllis Peterson, was an anchor at the church and directed the Vacation Bible School for more than 50 years. The members said Peterson is missed and would have loved the new church.
Pastor Charles Rossiter said he was glad to see the children in the building. "We never lost our congregation. We met at Singerly for 18 months and we never lost them," he said.