The story of a young shepherd who brought down a fearsome giant forms the backdrop for this year’s vacation Bible school at Knox Presbyterian Church and Peace Lutheran Church.
And, while the stones are made of marshmallows and the armour of empty milk jugs, David and the Unfriendly Giant takes the Old Testament story of David and Goliath as its theme for this year’s VBS, running Aug. 24 to 28 at both churches.
“Once again, it’s making it about the kids and sharing Biblical stories,” said the Rev. Teresa Charlton, minister at Knox. “Both of our churches are finding that Sunday morning Sunday school is not working the way it used to. Rather than fight that battle, we have an enthusiastic audience in the summer and this is a great way to share simple stories and to make those connections.
“And at odd times you will encounter these families and if they are in crisis, they now have somewhere to turn.”
At Peace, parishioner Judy Garlick said the church has already been receiving phone calls about this year’s VBS.
“And we get a lot of families who don’t even go to church who are asking when we’re doing this — they enjoy this as a way of connecting,” she said.
The entrance to Knox has been decorated for the theme, with a larger-than-life Goliath constructed by church member Dawn Perkins of recycled materials, including pool noodles and paper. It’s a hint at the fun to come, as the young participants in the VBS will be making their own shields out of old trays and duct tape and helmets out of four-litre milk jugs spray-painted and decorated with yarn remnants donated by Knox’s Knotty Knitters group.
Goliath’s head has made a cross-Canada trip from Ontario, courtesy of Charlton’s mother.
“It’s the ugly puppet that won’t die,” Charlton said, laughing. “At my old church in Richmond, Ontario we had used them and my mother pointed out these are perfect when I told her I needed a life-sized Goliath — shortly afterwards, two puppet heads arrived in the mail.
“Everything is made of recycled materials and I have been busy picking through my neighbour’s garbage, much to my children’s embarrassment. It’s all very homemade and to me that is being very creative — and kids remember the story, because they make the story.”
In selecting this year’s theme, Charlton said she aimed for the most non-violent story she could find. So, while David himself used a single stone to take down the nine-foot giant, the kids will use giant marshmallows and can then eat the “evidence.”
“And in our story, Goliath falls to the ground instead of anyone having their head chopped off, as in the original story.
“There are lots of great bullying themes in this story but the kids learn that God is with you in the difficult times, so there are a lot of contemporary themes. “David swings his mighty sword and there is victory — God’s people are victorious — but we are softening the violence.”
Throughout the week, the kids will be not only learning the story of David the Israelite and Goliath the Philistine as they make their costumes, but they will paint a mural to go up on the walls at Knox.
“Another reason for the murals is to tell the story for adults, too,” said Charlton.
On the last day, everyone is invited to the wrap-up party and dramatic production featuring sheep wearing ears made of old wool socks, nuns wearing habits made of recycled materials — and singing a song from Sister Act — and of course members of either David’s army or the Philistine army. And with all costumes, milk jugs are featured prominently as head ware.
“We invite seniors from the community to come and enjoy the performance and then enjoy hot dogs and ice cream with us.”
When the program at Knox wraps up, the kids will receive a souvenir DVD of the week’s activities as well as their own Bible to take home, courtesy of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Armstrong.
“They have just closed their doors, and have offered the Bibles for the children, so this is a lovely way to make use of them — we are looking for ways to build bridges with Armstrong.”
David and the Unfriendly Giant runs Aug. 24 to 28 from 9 a.m. to noon each day, at Knox Presbyterian Church, 3701-32nd Ave., and at Peace Lutheran Church, 1204-30th Ave. The wind-up party is the last day at 10:30 a.m.
The cost is $10 per child or $20 per family, with financial support available. Reserve your spot at your favourite location by calling Knox at 250-542-8613 or Peace at 250-545-5787.
“It’s open to school-aged kids, but certainly if older siblings attend with their younger brothers or sisters, we are happy to give them more of a leadership role to help out.”