Sunday, July 29, 2012

Our nation is so diverse

I grew up in Cranston Rhode Island, a bedroom community of Providence, part of the eastern megalopolis. My wife grew up in Meade Kansas, a county seat in southwestern Kansas, population 1,800 in a county of 5,000. Over the years I constantly find more and more things that are different about where we grew up.

Part of it is probably the religious differences, me raised as a New England Episcopalian and Lynda a prairie Nazarene. Some of it is big city vs. small town. Part of it is simply the region of the country. I don't want to detail these right now. But today I took note of a new one.

That thing is Vacation Bible School. So common everywhere I've lived since leaving Rhode Island—well, not in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait—I had never heard of it growing up. I'm not saying I never took part in it, but that I didn't even hear of it. Evangelical churches aren't common in RI, or at least they weren't when I grew up there. In Meade, so typical of the small towns in much of America, every church has a VBS in the summer.

I guess it was 1976, after Lynda and I were married, that I VBS first came into my consciousness. We volunteered at our church's VBS. I saw a different type of ministry, as many kids from outside of the church's normal sphere of influence did fun things, and heard the gospel given at their level. I thought it was neat. Over the years I then worked in about 15 of these, and enjoyed them.

Today was the VBS program at our church. About 60 or 70 kids took the stage, and it was all about them. These days they sing their songs with CDs rather than piano accompaniment. The songs are new, jazzed up, lots of movement, the smallest kids are up on the platform. They even did some of the movements. Overall I was impressed.

But I'm still struck by the fact that through all my growing up, all the years in church, and we didn't have this event that is so common so much of our nation. How diverse is the United States! That's a good thing. Although I wish all children had the chance to attend VBS, I think the diversity is good. Long live diversity.


Susan said...

I loved VBS growing up in Indiana. Now, although I still live in Indiana, our "megachurch" (and many other churches in the area) no longer do the traditional VBS. Our church does something 4 nights one week where they present a drama for kids to watch as they and their families eat dinner. What can I say? I'm a true conservative, in that change is hard for me. I tend to think the VBS of my youth was better -- the crafts, the games, the Bible story, the workbooks, the generic oreos -- but time marches on. Interesting that New England doesn't do VBS!

Gary said...

RI Lutheran churches held VBS in our era.