By Susan Mikula Campbell
Grand Island resident Sarah Comfort has been attending Bible Presbyterian Church's Vacation Bible School since she was in fourth grade, first as a student, then as a helper. Now 34, the only summer she remembers missing the program was last year, when she worked at a summer camp in Ohio.
"It was hard being away," she said.
Back when Comfort and her younger sister first started in the program, they weren't even members of the church. Afterwards, "we asked my mom if we could go to church every Sunday."
Vacation Bible School has been offered every year at Bible Presbyterian for well over 50 years, according to the Rev. Kevin M. Backus, senior pastor. Last year, more than 180 people were involved.
It returns next week, June 29 to July 3, to the church at 1650 Love Road, Grand Island, serving students age 4 to entering fifth grade from 9:30 a.m. to noon, and students entering grades 6 to 12 from 7 to 9 p.m.
"It's a tremendous opportunity for young people to become acquainted with the Lord's word," Backus said.
The morning program, "Operation Space, A Close Encounter with God's Word," focuses on God's creations with rally time and individual classes. It will include songs, puppet shows, Bible stories, Bible lessons and crafts.
Bus transportation is provided for the morning program, but it is limited to students who live on Grand Island. Since bus routes were set this week, parents should call 716-773-7303 to check on availability.
The evening program is more a larger group activity for middle and high school students with games and activities. The title of this program is "The End of Shame."
"We all experience shame in this life, all go through different methods to alleviate it, and God's words have the answers to it," Backus explained.
"All the material is Bible-centered and non-denominational," Backus said. "Anybody who wants to come, can come."
When she started attending Vacation Bible School, Comfort said, "The teacher I had was wonderful and someone I still look up to."
The teacher explained how God had sent Jesus, who Christians believe was without sin, to die for human sinners.
"I knew I wasn't always obedient to my mom, let alone the God of the universe," Comfort said. "It made sense to go to church."
Getting Vacation Bible School ready to go has been an active project for the last six months, Backus said. People have been making preparations, constructing sets, routing buses and developing crafts and lessons. "Most of the church is involved in one way or another," he said.
His staff for Vacation Bible School this year is about 60 to 75 people, he said.
Comfort has worked in the program since she was in high school, performing a variety of tasks. This year, she will be running games for the evening program, but she is really excited about working with a fourth- and fifth-grade class in the mornings, because that's the age she was when she first started Vacation Bible School at Bible Presbyterian.
To register for next week's Vacation Bible School, call 716-773-7303. For more information, go to the website: www.biblepres.org.