The basement of St. Catherine of Siena Church in Moscow was recently transformed into a land of medieval wonder as parish children participated in a five day Vacation Bible School (VBS). From 9 until noon each morning, kids from preschoolers through 6th graders enjoyed Bible story lessons, crafts, music, outdoor games, and snacks with the help of a group of dedicated adult and teen volunteers.
The theme for this year’s VBS was “God Is Our Mighty Fortress.” The elaborate medieval props used to decorate Kelly Hall in the church basement were the result of a group of more than 25 youth and 20 adult volunteers who worked together to create large scale sets including a medieval wall complete with a stained glass window, banners to decorate the walls, floating candles hanging from the ceiling, and moveable “rocks” that were used throughout the week to create various settings as needed.
Larry Lown, who has been volunteering to help with preparations for VBS for ten years, was the mastermind behind the elaborate props created for this year’s event. “We started very small and it just keeps getting better. When we learn something new, we bounce off that and go on,” said Mr. Lown in reference to the way the preparation details have expanded over the past decade.
An example of how Mr. Lown and the other volunteers learn as they go was the motorized “horse” that Fr. Robert Simon, pastor of St. Catherine’s, rode into Kelly Hall to open VBS week. Every year, Fr. Simon makes a grand entrance into the hall, such as dressing as a farmer and riding in on a tractor in 2016. This year, he was costumed as a crusader knight riding an impressive horse made from the drive mechanism of an electric wheelchair that had been decorated to look like a medieval battle steed.
Much to the delight of the youngsters gathered in eager anticipation of a week of Bible-inspired fun, Fr. Simon’s entrance was accompanied by bursts of colorful confetti from a confetti cannon.
Mr. Lown’s hard work in creating the “horse” will pay off for years to come as the mechanism will be repurposed for future programs, such as the Christmas pageant, where it will be transformed into the donkey Mary that carried Mary to Bethlehem.
The work of transforming the church basement into a medieval hall and the hands-on help of running a program for more than one hundred participants required the input of a large number of parishioners who volunteered their time, donated props and equipment, who helped with costumes and banners, and more.
“We really want to express our gratitude to those who helped. We could never do this without the whole parish and community behind us,” remarked Laura Wendt, pastoral associate at St. Catherine’s. “I’m inspired by these people who want to serve each other and help their community. This is my view of heaven!”