One of the sacred traditions across Sunflower County is Vacation Bible School.
This summer’s edition will be on hold a bit though. Area churches and organizations are still plowing through what it will take to keep everyone safe and sanitized for VBS.
Herron Wilson, director of Delta Missions along with Indianola First United Methodist Pastor Trey Skaggs, Indianola First Baptist Church Pastor Dr. Guy Burke and Indianola First Presbyterian Pastor Duncan Hoopes have been meeting with their VBS leaders to figure out just how to keep kids safe but having fun and learning about Jesus.
“We are postponing and will regroup this summer about a possible back-to-school date,” Skaggs explained.
Wilson had been planning a first ever VBS extravaganza of sorts with the Sunflower County Baptist Association. The Delta Missions leader has been putting together VBSs for the past 25 years in local communities.
“We were going to host one centralized VBS camp in the African American community. There’s no telling how many kids we would have reached. That was unique and historical but it’s postponed until next year,” Wilson said. “We were really looking forward to it. This is the first year we haven’t hosted in 25 years.”
His other VBS outreaches in Indianola, Sunflower, Inverness and Shaw through Delta Missions are on hold at the moment while leaders figure out a safe plan for all those involved.
“We reach a little more than 300 kids each summer but the board of directors and I have delayed until we see what’s going to happen with this COVID-19,” Wilson said. “The camp in Indianola averages 100 kids and kids aren’t as mindful about social distancing as old folks are. It’s unfortunate because VBS is a lot of fun and relaxed and its creative. We enjoy working with the kids and engaging them.”
Dr. Burke noted they normally have a daytime VBS program but may change that this year. Normally, their VBS is held in early June.
“We got our committee and team together earlier to plan for that but once everything hit, we quickly punted on that. We knew the first of June wouldn’t be a good time,” he said. “We are looking at two other options. A weekend VBS where we would condense the material and have concentrated times throughout the weekend for kids and families. We’re also considering doing a Wednesday night series where we meet four consecutive Wednesday nights. But we don’t have any target date. We don’t have any specifics.”
Hoopes has been working to figure his church’s VBS plan as well.
“We had been planning on the first week of June but with everything going on and no one has been able to prepare, we moved to August 2nd through the 5th,” he said. “It’s the same pattern we followed last year with the Sunday through Wednesday.”
The First Presbyterian VBS will run from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. with a dinner and a rotating round robin of crafts, lessons and games.
“We have a grand finale the following Sunday evening,” Hoopes said. “By having a Sunday night activity, those who aren’t part of our church can go to theirs in the morning and then to the closeout at ours.”
The churches are also operating under the understanding that plans could change due to Governor Reeves’ Emergency Orders regarding COVID-19.