According to the Presbyterian Church (USA), the church’s first independently produced Vacation Bible School (VBS) curriculum, God Calls Us: Around the World in 5 Days, was introduced during the last month’s annual four-day conference of the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators (APCE) in Norfolk, VA, where 1000 Christian educators gathered.
“At a glance, I really like the ideas that are presented here,” Jan W. Day, the director of Christian education at Summerville Presbyterian Church said during a workshop featuring the new VBS curriculum.
The curriculum is designed for children ages 4 through 10, to connect them with the idea of global mission. Through the five-day VBS course, children will visit different countries and explore their culture. This year’s mission lands are Guatemala, Malawi, Pakistan, Peru and the Philippines.
Many of the Presbyterian leaders give words of praise about the new VBS curriculum.
“I have not read it cover-to-cover, but I think it’s a wonderful concept, by looking at worldwide mission and where we are connected,” said the Rev. Bill Lane, associate pastor for Christian education, youth ministry and congregational nurture at Calvary Presbyterian Church in Riverside, CA. “I like it because it’s getting children connected to mission, and I think that’s important.”
Lane and others said they also liked the VBS curriculum because of its low price and its availability regardless of the size of congregation.
“I think what’s nice about it is that it can be tailored to churches, whether they’re a small church or a big church,” he said. “ ... It allows you to use your imagination: ‘How can I use my space for that?’ So I think there’s some potential sitting there.”
The curriculum is sold at the price of $35. The reason why it is sold at such low price is that all the work was done in-house to save money and most of the curriculum was derived from unused material for the 2004 “We Believe” intergenerational summer curriculum, “Christ’s Command: Go into the World.”
“For churches that don’t have a lot of money and can’t afford these $200 kits that come with the puppet, the CD and all the bells and whistles, this is just really practical,” said the Rev. Tammy Wiens, CMP’s associate for curriculum development and editor of the VBS curriculum.
Many at APCE also applauded the summer curriculum’s incorporation of the PC(USA)’s 2004 Children’s Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study, which includes prayers, Bible verses and mission stories from around the world, complete with maps and photos.
“I like seeing more than one resource being pulled together,” Day said, “and the ideas are very easy to do. I don’t see anything that would be complicated. I’ll be able to go back to my teachers right now and say, ‘I think I may have found our summer curriculum.’”
Others agreed with Day that the curriculums are easy and straightforward, fun and the Bible oriented.
“It’s very affordable, and the materials, since it’s maps and things like that, anybody could get their hands on the material,” said Wendy Markham of Kirkland, WA, director of children’s ministries at Rose Hill Presbyterian Church. “It would just take a matter of somebody sitting down and coming up with some ideas and a little bit of planning, and they should be able to pull it off.”
The curriculum also includes teachers’ guide, “Teacher Tips,” which provides ideas for finding and inspiring volunteers, setting the stage, and suggested time lines.
To order God Calls Us: Around the World in 5 Days (Item #614900), as well as the We Believe summer curriculum (#614800) and the Children’s Mission Yearbook (#7061204451), call Presbyterian Distribution Service at (800) 524-2612, or visit www.pcusa.org/marketplace.