Vacation bible school season starts
Eva Jo Callahan, left, and Suzanne Sindledecker, right, work on putting up banners as they decorate the Fellowship Hall for Vacation Bible School at the McIntosh United Methodist Church in McIntosh, Fla. on Wednesday, June 15, 2022. The church will be hosting a Vacation Bible Camp that starts on Sunday, June 19 and runs through Friday, June 24. The church expects about 100 people to be involved in the camp, which will also include campers and church members from five other local churches. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2022.
The Town of McIntosh is so small, its handful of churches put aside their denominational differences years ago to create a community Vacation Bible School for both young and old alike.
The yearly ecumenical effort takes place at McIntosh Christian, McIntosh United Methodist, and McIntosh Presbyterian churches with assistance and support from McIntosh Baptist, Community Presbyterian and Evinston United Methodist churches.
“It’s truly a community effort for everyone from kids in the nursery up to adults,” said Suzanne Sindledecker, of McIntosh Presbyterian who, along with Eva Joe Callahan, is co-facilitating the weeklong program slated for Sunday through Friday (June 19-24)
McIntosh has a population of just 452 residents with four of the six churches located within its town limits, and the other two within a few miles.
“None of us are large churches so this allows us to share our resources and volunteers, and work together,” she said.
The community Vacation Bible School will officially begin with an opening ceremony, along with fun and games from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday (June 19) followed by dinner and registration from 5 to 7 p.m. on the grounds of McIntosh United Methodist, 20627 8th St.
This year’s theme is, “Sparks Studio: Created in Christ for God’s Purpose.”
The faith-based summer program’s kickoff has taken place on the third Sunday in June since its inception at least ten years ago and has now become a treasured tradition for town residents, attracting roughly 100 participants each year, nearly a quarter of the town’s population, although the COVID pandemic did cause a drop in attendance in 2020 and 2021.
“We’ve been doing this for at least ten years and we always kick off Vacation Bible School on Father’s Day with fun activities and food,” said Sindledecker. “It’s a family affair.”
The program will continue from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday (June 20-24), with dinner served each night in the fellowship hall of the Methodist church.
“We feed everyone for six nights so families don’t have to worry about dinner,” she said.
After the meal, participants, grouped by age, will either stay at the Methodist church or disperse to either the nearby McIntosh Presbyterian, 5825 Ave. F, McIntosh Christian, 5845 Ave. E, or the town’s Community Center at 5835 Avenue G for the nightly programming.
Sindledecker said the community VBS is not the only time McIntosh’s congregations join efforts.
“The six churches meet quarterly and take turns hosting community services at Easter and Christmas each year, she said.
A bevy of other churches in Marion County are also hosting Vacation Bible School this year, here are a few of them:
- First Baptist Church of Summerfield, 14550 SE 65th Court, will have Vacation Bible School from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Sunday through Friday (June 19-24). The church will serve a light meal at 6 p.m., as well as a snack during the VBS program.
Details and registration: 352-245-2369 or fbcsummerfield.org.
- Community Harvest Baptist Church in Summerfield will have Vacation Bible School from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday (June 20-24) for kids in Pre-K through Fifth grade. This year’s theme is, “Zoomerang: Returning to the Value of Life.” The church is located at 14915 SE 36th Ave.
Details and registration: 352-245-9850 or pastor Daniel Giltner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Fellowship Baptist Church, 10500 N U.S. Highway 27, Ocala will have its annual Vacation Bible School from 9 a.m. to Noon Monday through Friday (June 20-24) for children in grades Pre-K to 6th grade. This year’s theme is “Spark Studios”
Details and registration: 352-629-5379 or fellowshipinocala.com, under the Upcoming Events, link.
- Children in grades PreK-4 through fifth grade will travel to Biblical times and weave baskets from reeds, make clay pots and enjoy the smell of fresh warm bread during Grace Presbyterian Church’s Vacation Bible School taking place from 5:30 to 8 p.m. June 27-July 1. This year’s theme is, “Jerusalem Marketplace.” The church is located at 2255 SE 38th Street, Ocala.
Details and registration: 352-629-1537 or gpcocala.org.
- First Presbyterian Church of Ocala, 511 SE Third St. will host its annual Vacation Bible School from 8:30 a.m. to Noon June 28-30 for children in PreK-3 (toilet-trained) through fifth grade. This year’s theme is, “Rocky Railway: Jesus’ Power Pulls Us Through.”
Details and registration: 352-629-7561 or fpcocala.org.
- Abiding Hope Lutheran Church will take participants in its VBS on a figurative road trip around the USA during its “Route 3:16,” program from 9 a.m. to Noon June 30-July 1. The two-day VBS is open to children ages four to ten. The church is located at 777 SE 58th Ave., Ocala.
Details and registration: abidinghopeocala.com.
- St. Marys’ Episcopal Church, 5750 SE 115th St (Babb Road) Belleview, will have Vacation Bible School from 5:30 to 8 p.m. July 11-15. This year’s theme is “Rocky Railway – Jesus’ Powers Pulls Us Through.” The church will provide dinner each night.
Details and registration: 352-347-6422 or stmarysbelleview.org/vbs/.