Are Your Kids Going to Vacation Bible School This Summer?

VBS

via Creative Commons

If so, you need some historical context.  Check out Chris Gehrz’s “A Brief History of Vacation Bible School” at The Anxious Bench.”  Here is a taste:

In his 1964 history of Christian education, Wheaton education professor C.B. Eavey traced the idea back to Boston just after the Civil War, but it’s generally agreed that the first VBS antecedent to be held as a summer church-run activity took place starting in 1877 in Montreal, Canada. Then in 1898 Eliza Hawes, the children’s ministry director at New York City’s Baptist Church of the Epiphany, organized an “Everyday Bible School.” Originally held at a rented beer hall, attendance plummeted in 1900 when Epiphany’s pastor insisted on relocating to the church itself. The program moved back near the beer hall the following year, Hawes’ last at the church, when she ran seven separate schools.

But it was another Baptist from the same city who is most frequently credited with founding the “vacation church school” as we would recognize it: Robert G. Boville, executive secretary of the New York City Baptist Board of Missions. “He had a concern,” write James E. Reed and Ronnie Prevost, “similar to that of [18th century Sunday School founder Robert] Raikes in Gloucester [England], that children of New York be given religious instruction during their idle summers to keep them out of trouble and develop patterns for productive and upright adult living.” Or as Eavey put it: “The vacation church school was started to gather idle children into unused churches where unoccupied teachers might keep them busy in a wholesome way in a wholesome environment.”

Read the rest here.  How can you bring your kids to a week-long event without understanding its history?  Too many people live their everyday lives this way.  🙂

One thought on “Are Your Kids Going to Vacation Bible School This Summer?

  1. As a kidd growing up in a rural Southern Baptist church, VBS was in many ways the highlight of my summer. Now as a historian I am constantly “preaching” that everything has a history, but not until reading this did I ever make that connection with VBS. Thanks for this.

    Like

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