ANDERSON, Ind. — After you crossed the drawbridge, and went over the moat and underneath the crenelated towers, you found yourself in the midst of a medieval castle.
Colorful pennants hung along gray stone passageways. There were horses in their stalls, and knights in armor.
There was also a huge crowd of happy kids, decked out in purple T-shirts. They were all there for South Meridian Church of God’s Vacation Bible School last week.
The church went all out to transform their entire building into a castle. Valerie Petry, director of Children’s Ministries and Outreach, said the church received donations of decorations from seven other churches to create the extravagant scene.
The program, “Kingdom Rock,” focused on standing strong in God’s love.
“We want to lavish God’s love on them,” said Petry of the elaborate decorating. “When the kids come, we want them to go wow.”
The VBS drew about 200 kids from age 5 through the fifth grade this year. While some of them already attend South Meridian, most of the crowd came from the surrounding neighborhood.
“We’ve been committed to making our VBS an outreach mission,” said Petry.
The church goes out of its way with a novel approach to generate interest in the neighborhood. In one outreach, the congregation donates 12-packs of Coke. The cans are then labeled with the VBS invitation. Finally, church members get together in small groups to deliver the cans to the doorsteps of the houses in the area.
“It’s really a neat way to let the neighborhood know, ‘Hey, we’re here for you,’” said Petry.
Not only did South Meridian transport the children to another world with their medieval-themed VBS, they fed them, too. The church served dinner each night before the start of the VBS. The children, their families and the volunteers all sat down under tents outside the church to fill their tummies up. Petry said the practice began about five years ago after a somber observation.