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Salineville church takes its Vacation Bible School virtual due to pandemic

SALINEVILLE — Amidst the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, one local church found the V also standing for virtual in its summer youth education effort.

M.J. Ludwig, the Vacation Bible School director of the Everyone’s Welcome Church here, found herself in somewhat of a pickle — how to safely educate youth about Jesus and his message while still doing so responsibly in an age of social distancing.

Thus the VBS in a Box kits were born for children ages 2-12.

Volunteers, including Ludwig and her pastor husband Ted, spent their Tuesday afternoon packing 100 individual VBS kits into boxes for their four-day event. It was just the latest offering on behalf of residents of Southern Local school district, which is just down the road.

Although as the Ludwigs frequently remind, everyone is welcome at the five-year old church effort.

“We just didn’t want to just do nothing,” M.J. Ludwig, whose husband Ted pastors the congregation, recounted. Doing something completely remote wouldn’t fit the bill in her eye, so the VBS in a Box kit was born.

However, there will be some virtual as well. Ludwig said that at 6 p.m. each night of the assigned four days, VBS personnel will go to Facebook live to talk to the families about that day’s lessons, including the memory verse that represents a large part of the lesson.

This year’s VBS theme couldn’t necessarily be any more fitting, volunteers acknowledged as they packed the boxes: “Life is Wild ….. God is Good.”

A quick look at the interior of a box shows four manila envelopes: one for each day of the VBS; the CD; broad tipped magic markers; coloring sheets; Play-Doh, snacks and additional art projects, like a cross pendant.

Ludwig just asks that participants take photos of themselves doing the activities and post them to the church’s VBS Facebook page.

Only 100 boxes initially were completed for the first wave, but they don’t want anyone to not participate due to lack of kits. She stressed it is not just open to district residents.

The in-person VBS initially was scheduled June 1-4; however, the remote option gives families greater flexibility with their schedules.

To claim a VBS in a box kit between 6 and 8 p.m. Sunday, May 31, the church asks that travelers come to their location at 2 East Main St.

As Ludwig explains, there are two options: the drive through in the parking lot behind the church, where a box containing VBS activities for four days, snacks, crafts and a music CD will be given to participants through the car window. Or, walkers may have the option of receiving them from the upper parking area of the church.

The volunteers will create a waiting list for additional participants if those 100 boxes run out. Another wave of kits will be completed for those children and their families contacted to pick up.

For anyone seeking information, call 330-305-4059.

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