Posted by: happytoknowhim | August 18, 2007

The History of Vacation Bible School

Our Assistant Pastor wrote this article for our Church Bulletin and I thought with so many that have been involved in VBS’s lately that it might be of interest to you.  I learned something I didn’t know before about VBS:)  Enjoy!!! 

“The History of Vacation Bible School”     

  The origins of Vacation Bible School can be traced back to Hopedale, Illinois in 1894. Mrs. D.T. Miles, a Methodist pastor’s wife, felt limited with time constraints in teaching the Bible to children on Sunday mornings. Miles started a daily Bible school to teach children during the summer months. The first Bible school enrolled 40 students. Parents of those children donated $1 for supplies. A local school was used for classes, while recess was held at an adjoining park.      In 1898 Mrs. Eliza Hawes, director of the children’s department at Epiphany Baptist Church in New York City, started an “Everyday Bible School” for children that lived in the poorest sections of the city. Her goal was to get children off the streets of New York.  In 1898 and 1899 Mrs. Hawes rented a beer hall in New York’s East Side to conduct “Everyday Bible School”. In 1900 Mrs. Hawes’ pastor, Howard Lee Jones, insisted that the Bible school be moved to the church building. After two weeks, it became clear that children from the East side would not attend at the church, so Mrs. Hawes moved the school back to a site near the rented hall.  She continued her efforts for seven years. Dr. Robert Boville, of the Baptist Mission Society, became aware of the Hawes’ summer program and recommended it to other Baptist churches.  Boville established a handful of summer schools which were taught by students from the Union Theological Seminary. During one summer, one thousand students were enrolled in 5 schools. In 1922 the World Association of Daily Vacation Bible School was founded by Boville.In the early 20th century, Vacation Bible School became a growing trend. While Hawes and Boville were indeed Baptist, Vacation Bible School became a non-denominational event in those early years. In 1924 a Vacation Bible School Department was formed in the Southern Baptist Convention, and Homer Grice became its first director. At that point, Vacation Bible School was usually a four week event!Please be in special prayer as Vacation Bible School begins on Monday.  May the Lord help us as we reach children and families for Christ!

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