This year, Friedens Church in Shartelsville, Zion Blue Mountain UCC in Strausstown, and First Reformed UCC in Hamburg joined forces to offer a combined Vacation Bible School called “Come Together.”
“It was so gratifying to see the three churches and the children they reach collaborate and effectively share God’s resources, including our love and time,” said Pastor Jason Stump of Zion Blue Mountain UCC. “In such a divided time in society, it really shows how God’s love always unites. And I made some new friends!”
“Frieden” means “peace” in German, according to the website of Friedens Lutheran Church in Shartlesville.
“What I saw on the closing day of Vacation Bible School could best be described as cheerfulness, laughter, youthful energy and a lot of fun in the Christian tradition,” said Susan Leiby of the First British Reformed Church in Hamburg.
“It obviously took little time for the kids to make new, vibrant friendships,” Leiby added.
The evening began with a snack for the children.
“Our appetizers are good and we do something different every night,” said member Oliver Spath.
Pastor Stump then sang “Blessing the Addams Family.”
As Peggy Zeitinger and her guitar sang, they led the group in a series of songs about God’s love.
Then the group was divided into two parts, and half created garden products inside.
“I love doing crafts and meeting new people,” said participant Ella Thompson.
“It was great to have three churches come together and put on meaningful programs for the kids,” said Pastor and Mrs. Darryl Hamm of First Reformed, who helped with the craft.
Meanwhile, the other half went outside to collect fruit and vegetables grown at Friedens Church. The groups then switched roles.
Potatoes, carrots and tomatoes were harvested under the leadership of Pastor Inge Williams of Friedens.
“We at Friedens have been bringing fresh produce from our garden to the Zions Food Pantry for several years now,” Williams said. “It is a joy when children participate in this ministry. Cooperation is very important.”
The night ended with a second appetizer of freshly picked watermelon.