The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a change in plans for a number of activities in recent months, but members at Christ Presbyterian Church near Brentwood came up with a creative way to still hold a version of its annual Vacation Bible School for some of the church’s families.
For the past 10 years, the church has held VBS for children with special needs and their siblings, and it has become the largest event the special needs ministry hosts each year. The format may have had to change this year due to the coronavirus outbreak, but there was plenty of fun as the church hosted a “Very Special Bible School Parade 2020” around the church parking lot Monday evening.
One of the most unique parts of the event is each volunteer is paired one-on-one with a child to develop a relationship during the normal three-day event, according to a press release sent by Christ Presbyterian, which is located on Old Hickory Boulevard at the Williamson and Davidson county line. One of the biggest concerns in transitioning the event this year was not losing that connection with the volunteers, so each participant felt deeply loved and seen.
After praying and thinking through the details, the Special Needs Ministry team decided to host a drive-through parade where campers would be able to hear the music play in their cars as they drive through the parade. Volunteers were assigned a specific child and decorated the car with personalized signs and included items that were unique to the child interests.
Items on the cars included a life size personal cut out of one of the campers, LEGO creations spelling out a camper’s names, a real doll house, personalized signs, balloons, themed cars directly related to child’s interests such as a Taylor Swift Car and a Predators car and more.
There were over 130 volunteers that signed up to decorate their cars and cheer for each child as they came through the parade.
“We could not ask for better volunteers,” said Gigi Sanders, director of Special Needs at Christ Presbyterian Church. “When I walked down to see all the cars decorated, I was absolutely speechless. Our volunteers truly went above and beyond to make sure our families felt deeply loved.
“When our families arrived to pick up the supplies for the Very Special Bible School and drive through the parade, it was amazing to see the church body come together. We are truly changed people by having individuals with special needs in our community. We are the ones that are blessed because they show us a deeper picture of what true joy looks like.”
The parade was the kickoff for a three-day camp that will happen virtually. Each day the campers will have an opportunity to get online and participate in Bible, music and also a time to connect with both volunteers and friends virtually. Registrations for Very Special Bible School 2020 were the highest number the special needs ministry team has ever had with over 95 campers registered to attend.
“We are so grateful for how the event turned out and are so excited to see how the Lord continues to use the rest of the week, said Mimi Sanders, Very Special Bible School coordinator and longtime volunteer.
“During a time where there has been so much hardship in our world, country and city in the past three months, it was beyond encouraging to see community come alongside each to love deeply. It gave a glimpse of the deeper hope we have in the Lord. Each one of us needed a reminder of the lasting impact kindness and compassion can have.”