Children from New Hartford UMC show off their "Viral" Vacation Bible School supplies. Photo courtesy of Sandy Becker.
Submitted by Sandy Becker, New Hartford United Methodist Church Lay Leader and Christian Education Coordinator
The New Hartford United Methodist Church is a typical rural small church in Iowa. In 2019, New Hartford's population dropped 5.4% from 2010, which has continued since the 1980s. Nevertheless, members of the New Hartford UMC are making every effort to make disciples by serving the community and spreading the gospel.
Then we came across the COVID-19 pandemic.
We made the very difficult decision to cancel in person Vacation Bible School (VBS) at New Hartford UMC. We felt that the restrictions would be too difficult to enforce with children, however, we did not want to give up the opportunity to spread God's word to our children.
When the pandemic began, and the church had to be closed, we were determined through prayers to find a way to continue ministering to our community, and from these prayers came our church's website. Weekly we sent out hard copies and posted to the website the service, sermon, announcements, videotaped children's sermons and children's bulletins.
So, why not do this with VBS? The planning began to do a "Viral" Bible School (VBS).
We packed Bible School Kits complete with lessons, activities, crafts, snacks and prizes. These kits were delivered to 31 children. The lessons, craft demonstrations and music were posted on our church website for those who wanted to engage in this manner. However, if we had those who did not have internet access, all kits included copies of the stories, Bible verses and craft directions.
God answered our prayers and we had an amazing response from families. Children were reached and God helped us find a way around this pandemic to continue our ministry.