Church leaders use summer to reach youths

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If you go

What: Ridgeview Church of God Vacation Bible School

When: 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. today, Thursday and Friday

Where: Ridgeview Church of God, 690 Riford Road

Cost: Free

Programs are available for children ages 4 and 5 and students in kindergarten through sixth grade. For more information, call 824-9619.

What: Craig Christian Church Vacation Bible School

When: 8:30 a.m. to noon July 14 through 17

Where: Craig Christian Church, 960 W. Victory Way

Cost: Free

Programs will be available for youth from kindergarten through high school. For more information, call 824-6024.

What: Fiesta-themed Vacation Bible School

When: 8:30 a.m. to noon July 21 through 25

Where: St. Michael Catholic Church, 678 School St.

Cost: $5 per child, $15 for 3 or more siblings

St. Michael Catholic Church, Friendship United Methodist Church, First Congregational United Church of Christ, St. Mark's Episcopal & Lutheran Church of Grace will sponsoring the Bible school together. Programs will be available for children in preschool through sixth grade. For more information, call Debbie Frazier at 824-2124.

— A recent face-off between boys and girls yielded financial benefits for a local nonprofit organization.

At a weeklong Vacation Bible School program sponsored by Calvary Baptist Church, children were encouraged to bring pennies. Their contributions were collected in two buckets - one for those donated by boys, another for the girls - which were then weighed to determine which group was ahead.

Children who attended the program raised more than $500 in pennies, said Pat Jones, director of the children's department at Calvary Baptist.

Last month's Vacation Bible School program offered by Calvary Baptist was one of several scheduled this summer by local churches.

Other churches are planning to host similar programs later this month.

Church leaders have crafted the themes of past Vacation Bible School programs from various settings. Calvary Baptist created a tropical beach scene at the church building for its Bible School program, while Yampa Valley Baptist Church built its five-day program around life in ancient Jerusalem.

Still, the purpose of the programs was similar - to teach in a way that resonates with young audiences.

Vacation Bible School leaders at Yampa Valley Baptist aimed to teach children "the purpose of the crucifixion, and the proof of God's acceptance of the crucifixion by the resurrection," said Rosie Potter, wife of Dale Potter, Yampa Valley Baptist Church pastor.

The summer months give churches a chance to reach out to children, Potter said.

"I think it's an opportunity because they're looking for something to do," she said. "It's an opportunity to reach them with the good news."

Steven Wallace, Ridgeview Church of God pastor, also sees the summer months as an opening where church leaders can interact with local children.

This week, Ridgeview Church of God continues its weeklong Vacation Bible School Program, which incorporates science principles into the traditional summer program formula.

The program allows church leaders to "reach out to kids in community and share with them the love of Christ," Wallace said, "and how love of Christ works in the world through science."

Other Vacation Bible School programs are scheduled to start later this month.

Craig Christian Church, formerly known as First Christian Church, plans to host its weeklong program from 8:30 a.m. to noon July 14 through 17.

The program, titled "God's Big Backyard," is scheduled to host various activities, including age-appropriate crafts, daily puppet shows and a visit from a missionary, said Phyllis Myers, Craig Christian Church Vacation Bible School director.

Another program is scheduled to take place from 8:30 a.m. to noon July 21 through 25 at St. Michael Catholic Church, 678 School St.

Friendship United Methodist Church, First Congregational United Church of Christ and St. Mark's Episcopal & Lutheran Church of Grace are joining forces with the Catholic church to sponsor the program, said Debbie Frazier, St. Michael religious education director.

"It's just a positive experience and it brings practical applications of how you should live your life as a Christian," Frazier said.

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