PAINTSVILLE, Ky. (KT) – The coronavirus has churches and pastors thinking outside the box – or even inside the box.
First Baptist Church in Paintsville used donated empty pizza boxes as a way to get crafts and materials to students for a virtual Vacation Bible School that attracted 70 participants recently.
“We took a Saturday and packed pizza boxes that were given to us and put in all the crafts they would do,” said Pastor Seth Carter. “We have put in a name badge that they’d wear in a typical week, a construction-themed vest, plastic construction hats and some packaged snacks.”
The “to-go” boxes were all picked up at the church and the kids from Paintsville and surrounding churches had the virtual VBS.
“It started off with our own church kids and they invited friends,” Carter said. “We got calls from the community requesting boxes. The outreach was better than we hoped for and the outreach on adults was far greater than usual.”
The parents were working with children on crafts and stories and getting the gospel message at the same time, the pastor said.
While it was less than the 200 children who participated in VBS at FBC Paintsville last summer, the number was strong considering the virtual aspect because of the pandemic.
Carter said he couldn’t have done it without Chuck Stamper, who teachers the junior youth at the church and has organized VBS there for 15 years. “Chuck is a blessing, I’ll tell you that,” Carter said. “He has a gift not only to teach students but to be an administrator. I told him this is like the Supreme Court: It’s a lifetime appointment.”
Stamper recruited enough help to get the boxes organized and the parents themselves became the teachers with their own children. “The parents had to teach those lessons and it was really, really good material. They had to think through the gospel themselves,” Carter said.
The pastor said they tried to think through the in-person possibilities but decided going the virtual route may be the best idea after reading a story in Kentucky Today about a church in northeastern Kentucky who did a virtual VBS.
“We wanted to do it in person but it became obvious that wasn’t going to happen,” Carter said. “But we saw where Liberty Baptist (in the Ashland area) did it and thought it would do it too. Everybody seemed to like it.”
Carter said the church has returned to about 70 percent of capacity and is running two Sunday morning services, Sunday night and Wednesday night.
“We’ve only had about 20 cases in Johnson County so far,” he said.