IF YOU GO
• What: “God Trek” vacation Bible school
• When: 7-9 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, and 10:45 a.m. Sunday (family festival)
• Where: East Chattanooga Church of God, 4872 Jersey Pike
• Ages: 3-sixth grade
• Phone: 894-7526
• Website: www.godtrekvbs.eventbrite.com
• What: “SonWest Roundup” vacation Bible school
• When: 5:15-8 p.m. Thursday-Friday, and 4-8 p.m. Saturday
• Where: Rock Spring United Methodist Church, 3477 Peavine Road, Rock Spring, Ga.
• Ages: Preschool-fifth grade
• Phone: 919-491-6600
• Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• What: “Jonah: A Whale of a Tale” vacation Bible school
• When: 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday
• Where: Daisy United Methodist Church, 9508 Dayton Pike, Soddy-Daisy
• Ages: 4-fifth grade
• Phone: 332-3243
If you’re a fan of “Star Trek,” it doesn’t get any cooler. If you’re not, a vacation Bible school — “God Trek” — involving the U.S.S. Starship Redemption, Capt. Perk, Cmdr. Bock and Lt. Boohoora still sparks the imagination.
East Chattanooga Church of God is hoping young fans of the television series and movies will be interested enough to attend the sessions, which run Wednesday through Sunday.
The congregation is one of at least three area churches trying new formats this week in order to attract parents and children to what often in the past has been a predictable week of Bible lessons, crafts and snacks. All three will use all or part of Saturday — for some the last Saturday before school starts — for their VBS.
Daisy United Methodist Church, for instance, has compacted its session into a one-day event with the theme “Jonah: A Whale of a Tale.”
Christy Jones, children’s coordinator for the congregation, says a church in which her husband was youth pastor in Winston-Salem, N.C., used a Super Saturday format for several years.
“It worked really, really well,” she says. “It was a way to get a lot of people involved. And it was good for people [bringing children] who commuted a long way. It saved the gas.”
Rock Spring United Methodist Church in Georgia is switching from the Super Saturday format it has used the last two years to a VBS with sessions Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, with full meals for participants, a theme of “SonWest Roundup” and the idea that Mom and Dad can have an evening or two out.
“When parents get off from work [Thursday and Friday],” says church spokeswoman Jenni Neighbors, “they don’t have to worry about going home and feeding the kids.”
On Saturday, the final night, activities conclude with a bonfire, snacks and activities to which the whole family is invited, she says.
East Chattanooga Church of God, though, is pulling out the stops with a nightly, live-action drama, a talking mainframe computer and a closing-day family festival in which all young participants leave with a backpack.
Candy Guyselman, new to the city and a former children’s pastor, volunteered to update “God Trek,” one of seven or eight VBS concepts she had written while living in Ohio, for the church. While participants are learning biblical concepts and character traits nightly, they’re also seeing what its creator called “a soap opera for kids” play out with the six-person crew of the U.S.S. Starship Redemption.
“It’s like watching a ‘Star Trek’ episode,” Guyselman says. “And they’re learning within the drama how to live a fuller life in Christ.”
In the playwright’s scenario, participants are assigned to one of four planets, Eden (jungle theme), Prism (space lab theme), Treasure (pirates theme) or Hershey (candy theme), which are being plundered and harassed by the evil Countess H. Despair.
In the live finale which substitutes for the church’s Sunday worship service, the countess is captured, redeemed and emerges not in her usual black outfit but in white emblematic of her washed-clean soul.
While six actors have “been practicing hard, learning the dialogue” and getting down their timing to interact with the video computer, around 80 people have been involved in pulling together the program, according to Guyselman.
“That’s how many it will take to pull it off,” she says. “I think it’s going to look pretty nice. We’ve tried to make it really fun.”
Guyselman says her team has even put together an introductory video and purchased original “Star Trek” sounds effects for more authenticity.
“The more you put into it, the more fun it is,” she says.
And the late July-early August dates, according to Guyselman, are intentional.
“We tried to stay away from everybody else’s timeframe,” she says, “so we tried to do it at the very end [of summer]. We’re also doing it in the evening,” concluding it with a family festival and backpack giveaway. “We’ve tried to hit on every aspect — give them one last hurrah.”
Contact staff writer Clint Cooper at email@example.com or 423-757-6497. Subscribe to my posts online at Facebook.com/ClintCooperCTFP.
Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...