The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


VBS for grown-ups?

Coffee and Kool-Aid at this Ohio church

Sharpen your No. 2 pencils, seniors, early October means one thing at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Dayton, Ohio: it's back-to-school time.

With the church's 200th anniversary approaching in 2020, Zion has been pioneering a number of 21st-century ideas for ministry, said member Judith Baker. One of the initiatives adopted in 2009 was an adult vacation Bible school (AVBS) for senior citizens.

All the initiatives were implemented (the other three are a community garden, mentoring elementary students and a family night out), but the success of the AVBS surprised everyone, Baker said.

Originally called "Camp Zion," it was to provide four days of fellowship and spiritual development for members and act as an entry point for older people in the community. What started as a planning group of three grew to 30 who are now involved as volunteers — planning, preparing and serving food, and leading workshops.

Zion's pastor, John T. Mittermaier, leads Bible study (sometimes with his father, a retired pastor), a worship team provides devotions and music to open and close every day, and a variety of members head up workshops. Crafts and classes are the most popular. Think: card making, golf, line dancing and computer training.

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