July 28, 2011

Back to the Garden

When we picked a theme for our Vacation Bible School this summer we naturally gravitated to Green. Our parish has made ecology a major theme during my five years in charge, so it was only natural that we took our young people down that path this summer with Back to the Garden: Renewing God’s Earth. 

This follows on our Green and Growing Capital Campaign and our City of Seattle-funded effort Taking Green Home. Each of these initiatives has deepened our commitment to being good environmental stewards. It has also given us a great, green brand in the community.

For me, the great excitement of this week has been how incredibly knowledgeable the children are about recycling, ecology, and the importance of environmental stewardship. Earlier this week we were playing a game called “Where does it go?” and when we came to the name tag, a little girl says “you could reuse the ribbon on it.” Wisdom.

I don’t believe there is any better issue for evangelism by the Episcopal Church than preaching care for the creation. That is certainly true in the Pacific Northwest. Of the 70 children registered for vacation bible school , 45 are not members of St. Andrew’s and I would guess the large majority of those are not members of any church. But our ecological theme caught their imagination and now they are learning about God, Christ, and the Church through a week-long program on the Parable of the Sower.

Christianity is best when it is “caught,” not taught. So a week filled with fun, educational activities centered on our parish garden and our newly organized recycling program is helping kids from the neighborhood and our own children make the connection between their everyday lives and the love God has shown them in creation.

Many churches are foregoing vacation bible school because it is considered quaint and outdated. Yet with the right theme, the right program, and the right set of activities, it can be a great tool for evangelism.