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RESOURCE CENTER AND ARCHIVES

Butler Association churches team up for special-needs VBScomment (0)

August 7, 2008


One special Butler Baptist Association Vacation Bible School (VBS) focused on children with special needs recently. Ten children attended the first-ever VBS uniquely for special-needs children in Butler County July 19. Held at First Baptist Church, Greenville, the event was a joint effort of volunteers from half a dozen churches in Butler Association.

The idea came about when Bill and Meg Stringer, members of the associational VBS team, volunteered to help with VBS for Midway Baptist Church, Honoraville, and East Greenville Baptist Church. Each church had one special-needs child, and the Stringers saw the need for a VBS designed to reach them. 

“I got involved purely out of conviction,” Bill Stringer said. “It wasn’t a matter of if we wanted to — we were going to.
It certainly wouldn’t have been possible without so much support from so many.”

Much preparation went into the event. Butler Association brought in consultant Pam Ivey to lead a clinic June 29 for all interested in helping with the special-needs VBS. Ivey educated attendees on challenges they might face and helped them draft a schedule for the day. Guardians also preregistered their children so volunteers could prepare to meet the children’s specific needs.

Most volunteers were not new to working with special-needs children. The team included schoolteachers, those who had been involved in therapeutic activities and parents of special-needs children.

Randy Harvill, pastor of Brushey Creek Baptist Church, Chapman, and his wife, Kim, taught the Bible study lesson.
The couple has a 15-year-old son with Down syndrome.

“As a pastor’s family, we’ve always had our son actively involved in church,” Kim Harvill said. “But so many families with special-needs children won’t go to church because they feel isolated. This VBS was a way for us to reach out to other families. Anytime you show love to children, you can reach their parents.”

According to Meg Stringer, who was in charge of crafts during VBS, 440 special-needs children are in the Butler County school system, providing plenty of opportunity for churches to reach out.

“We were thrilled to be involved,” she said. “[The children] were each a blessing in their own way.”

Jim Griffin, Butler Association director of missions, said volunteers were eager to continue to minister to special-needs children and are considering an event for the fall. They would also like to host another VBS next summer.

“We heard good feedback from the guardians,” Griffin said. “I pray more churches and associations will see opportunities to intentionally reach out to children with special needs. If we were near the blessing to them they were to us, it was a worthwhile experience.” (TAB)

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