2023 Urban Summer Camp/VBS4 min read

Four Summer Camp/VBS programs supported by the Michigan District’s Acts 2 Enterprise Ministry took place this year.

Bethany, Detroit’s Summer Sports Camp (June 12–16) was another successful event combining sports activities and Bible lessons with more than 90 neighborhood youth from ages 6 through 17.

Activities were held at Messmer Park in Cornerstone Village. The young people were divided into six different age groups led by huddle coaches who mentored the youth and led the daily Bible lessons. The groups would spend time each day experiencing different sports activities including archery, yoga, lacrosse, basketball, martial arts, cheerleading, and Double Dutch jump rope. There were also crafts for the younger ones. The huddle coaches would share the Bible story for the day with their group and then Pastor Bodley would gather all the kids together for a summary talk of the lessons learned. In addition, the kids shared a nourishing meal to finish the day. The 20 members of Bethany who helped with registration, set up, food preparation, and huddle coaching were joined by Lutheran Church members from Minnesota, Illinois, and Ohio who were participating that week in the Camp Restore Detroit ministry. The rain that threatened a couple of the days didn’t cancel the Camp as the activities were able to continue at Bethany’s gym. This year’s Sports Camp was a great physical and spiritual experience for everyone involved!

The Vine church in Walker (Grand Rapids area) held its VBS program July 24–28. They had around 50 attendees, about 12 of whom were Jr. High and High School students who wanted to help. The theme was Master Built and focused on how God created us, how Jesus saves us, and how together the Holy Spirit causes us to do good works and equips us to share the Good News. All of the activities were Lego-themed and focused on building and problem-solving.

Matt Hire, Minister of Worship and Family Life at The Vine, says, “My favorite part of the whole week was watching our youngest 6th grade leaders transition from participating to helping put on this outreach program.”

St. Paul Community, Pontiac’s VBS took place July 24–28. They had 78 participants—an increase of 18 from last year. The youth (teenage) VBS program that goes and serves the community was maxed out again. They had a lot of fun. Rev. Chris Jung and the VBS Director wrote their own VBS curriculum this year to focus the activities and lessons more squarely on Jesus and His mission on earth. The theme was “Walking with Jesus.” Every day, the students literally walked to a different location on campus to do a mini pilgrimage. There they not only heard the story of Jesus, but they were able to see it, touch it, and experience it. They walked to Bethlehem, the temple, the River Jordan, the cross, and the empty tomb.

Rev. Jung’s favorite story from the week is as follows: “On day four, walking to the cross, we discussed how we all do things that do not please God. These things are bad and are called ‘sins.’ We ‘confess’ our sins to God, telling God what we did and that we are sorry for them. So we all came up to the altar (the cross is above) and we confessed our sins. Then I went around and gave them all absolution. On the fifth day, we were recapping all of the themes from the week, and we had a new student. When we got to confessing our sins, the new student expressed that he wanted to do it. All of the students unanimously wanted to do it again, because they said that they had sinned since the day before, and they wanted to be forgiven by God. It made me tear up a bit to hear how eager they were to talk to God, confess their sins, and receive forgiveness.”

Pan de Vida, St. Stephen, and Family of God, Detroit combined efforts and volunteers to offer a bilingual (Spanish/English) VBS on the week of August 7–10. Pastor Ricardo Granado led the Spanish part of the program, and Pastors Nicolas Gapski, Tyler Cronkright, and Jim Hill took turns with the English part. They had a total of 15 children attending (starting with 9 and increasing as the week went by), most of whom were Hispanic. On the last day, parents were invited to the closing worship service, which was led in both English and Spanish and followed by an ice cream social and raffle for prizes for the children. Four Hispanic children were attending VBS for the first time, and two of them came back on Sunday with their mother.

Thank You

These summer programs were made possible by many donors’ generous responses to our Spring Appeal, as well as by many volunteers who gave their time and talent. Thank you! If you would like to support future summer camp/VBS programs like these, you can: 1) Pray; 2) Volunteer; or 3) Donate.

Photos of Bethany and Pan de Vida/St. Stephen/Family of God, Detroit’s programs by Elisa Schulz/Michigan District, LCMS. Other photos courtesy of St. Paul Community, Pontiac and The Vine, Walker

Subscribe to Blog Button

About the Author

Elisa is a staff writer, copy editor, and photographer for the Michigan District, LCMS.

More by This Author