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    United Methodists of Upper New YorkLiving the Gospel. Being God's Love.

    news article

    Vacation Bible School goes Virtual

    August 31, 2020 / By By Gayle M. Kryger,

    Editor’s Note: The following article, which originally appeared in the Summer 2020 issue of the Advocate, showcases how strong the United Methodist Connection can be. Virgil UMC, a very small church in the Upper New York Conference, partnered with a very large church, Zionsville UMC in the Indiana United Methodist Conference, to put on a successful virtual Vacation Bible School.

    At Virgil United Methodist Church, during April, it became evident that COVID-19 would make it impossible to have our Vacation Bible School (VBS) held in the traditional way. No one knew how long the "Stay at Home" orders would be in place. We discussed several options; to delay it until fall, hold it outside with five or less in a group, or at a large venue which would likely not be using all their meeting rooms-any and all ideas done with social distancing. It became evident that the only way would be a virtual VBS which could be used for all age groups done on a shared basis. Many local churches were cancelling VBS this year all together; perhaps children from other congregations could join in on a virtual VBS?

    Our Pastor, Steph Brown, at Virgil UMC, had chosen Rocky Railway from Group Publishing for our program. I contacted Group Publishing, Inc to see if they had something in the works to provide for all of us. Time was getting very short. We were praying for help and you never know where God's path will go, but we do know He pulls everything together for the Good!

    Ronnie Wade, our Music and Bible Games leader, researched online and found a very large United Methodist Church in Zionsille, IN, that was doing Rocky Railway virtually! I called Zionsville UMC and someone answered. The person who answered, Carol, said the church was closed but she had just stopped by for a moment to get something from her office and she gave me Tracy Vermillion, Director of Children's Ministries, contact information. Wow! God was right there helping us all.

    Zionsville UMC was happy to partner with us allowing Pastor Steph, Ronnie, and myself to attend their Zoom meetings. They have a great team! They created a story line using News Desk and used a reporter to tell the Bible Stories. The weatherman gave the kids the daily focus. Currently, when kids of any age are watching negative news across the country, how great it is to have this wonderful VBS reporting on the Good News of Jesus!

    Working together gave us energy and ideas and wonderful ways to partner with other churches from South Carolina, Oklahoma, and New York State. Here in Upper New York specifically, the Upper New York Conference Communications Team quickly notified other churches in the Conference about this no-cost virtual program that was available to them. We also placed an ad in the local Cortland Standard newspaper. Children from all over and different denominations had the opportunity to attend this program! Working together helped other small churches offer the VBS Program that they would not have been able to provide for their children otherwise.

    With more than 100,000 members, United Methodists of Upper New York comprises of more than 675 local churches and New Faith Communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our vision is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."