VBS 2020: Compassion Camp

First Pres families with children got to experience a “take-home” VBS June 22-26.

Our theme was Compassion Camp: Be Loved, Be Kind, Be You and it engaged 20 families with Old Testament and New Testament scripture, music, movement with yoga, mission projects, writing letters to our at-home senior members and collecting clothes for Note in the Pocket, arts and crafts, and other home activities for 5 days. With a daily video emailed each morning to participants explaining the theme and the Bible lesson, families were also introduced to special music which was lovingly performed and recorded by Andy Eaton and Casey Daniel. Songs of welcoming, compassion, and love were learned by all of us, along with a special song called “Make Me an Instrument of Peace”. Some of you may have heard Andy and Scott Sommerfeld play this song as a special offering in the worship service June 28.

Of course “in person” VBS has been a cornerstone of Children and Family Ministry here at FPC for decades, but this year’s COVID-19 “take home” VBS did not disappoint. Families were also invited to an optional one hour meet-up in the wide open spaces of Hudson Memorial Presbyterian Church’s outdoor areas on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of our VBS week. Families that attended stayed together as a family unit and enjoyed a masked and socially distanced gathering with fun energizers led by Katherine Matthes and Beth Thaxton, and a recap of the day’s Bible lesson. We learned about the labyrinth as a tool for prayer and families were invited to walk the one in the large field at Hudson. We created crosses with flower petals, picked up macrame mobiles to decorate and enjoyed seeing each other in person. Friday’s meet up included an ice cream truck and the FPC van parked and ready to receive food donations for local food pantries.

Learning about God’s compassion all week helped us understand five key lessons, one for each day of VBS:

  • Compassion helps us see and welcome others (the story of the Prodigal Son)
  • Compassion helps us be brave (the paralyzed man lowered through the roof to Jesus’ feet)
  • Compassion helps us love ourselves (Greatest Commandment)
  • Compassion helps us be present with each other (story of Ruth and Naomi)
  • Compassion gives us a fresh start (the Old Testament concept of the year of Jubilee)

God and Jesus model compassion to us in perfect ways in the scripture stories we studied. This summer was a great time for families to participate and to understand how we can continue to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our world, especially in such a difficult time. I am so thankful for the ways this church supports VBS each summer, and I appreciate our VBS co-directors Ann Poisson and Beth Wagner who were able to pivot quickly and help deliver a great program. Compassion Camp was a winner!

Katy Schafer
Director of Children and Family Ministries
First Presbyterian Church