VBS a retreat for kids

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 11, 2004

Imagine a small country church with six active white resident members. Imagine a Vacation Bible School with 85-90 mostly African-American

participants, from first grade through junior high, from many churches

It’s not your imagination but

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Bethany Baptist Church in Collirene, located in Lowndes County, which has been sponsoring the event for the past several years.

“We (Bethany church) have a history of being ecumenical from the beginning,” said the church’s pastor, the Rev. Elwood Sims, who also serves another church in the area.

Today concludes the traditional program which began on Monday, 8-11 a.m. daily.

Activities include singing, Bible study, crafts, snacks, lots of good learning and lots of good fellowship.

Bethany church is one of the oldest in the area, dating back to the early 1800s.

Almost next door is another Baptist church building, Old Bethel, and around the corner and down the road is New Bethel.

Pastor Sims, Hoffman Rhyne, the church’s deacon, and the others involved, including some from the community, are very proud of the project which fills the old church auditorium and classrooms each summer

with the shouts and songs of happy children.

The Rev. Tom Stacey, mission director for the Selma Baptist Association, calls Bethany’s VBS one of the best VBS programs going. “I help out with transportation,” he said. “I and others go around and pick up children who need a ride in the morning.”

While some children are learning crafts, others are singing, while still others are learning Bible basics. Alice H. Lyon, a teacher, who has been a member of the church for more than 40 years, was teaching

several children Bible basics in a small room. She said they were learning, among other things, how to find their way around in the Bible. They were learning the books of the Bible – Genesis and Matthew. “We have to start slowly,” she said with a wide smile.

Stacey said that Lyon had remodeled a store in Collirene that had belonged to her late husband and that she had stocked it with books, and tutors children in the summer.