This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
Two months out

chance to share their songs with an enthu- siastic audience. The AVBS is not just for seniors, but for other adults too. Mary Bogner was the council member

Hal Labensky (right), seated next to John Macisak, paints during craft time at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Dayton, Ohio. In addition to the crafts, Zion’s vacation Bible school for adults features service projects, such as stuffing bears for infants being served by a social service agency.

VBS for grown-ups? Coffee and Kool-Aid at this Ohio church


harpen 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 commu- nity 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 fel- lowship 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—plan- ning, 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. The past two years, service opportunities were added to the sched- ule. Participants pasted memorial stickers in the new hymn books, put the community garden to bed for the winter, and stuffed nearly 150 bears for Hannah’s Treasure Chest to benefit needy children. An accidental feature is the program’s intergenerational experi-

ence. Facilities are shared with Zion’s preschool. What appeared to be a problem is now clearly an asset, Baker said. Adults love shar- ing space with the little ones, and worship time allows the children a

charged with implementing the AVBS con- cept four years ago and has chaired the plan- ning committee each year since. “I give God praise for the success of this project,” she said. “In the beginning I had no idea how to do this. Someone gave me a few names, and everyone I approached said yes. Each year the volunteers keep coming back and mak- ing the program work.” Added Mittermaier, “If we offer fun and enjoyable learning opportunities for our children, why not for adults and lifelong learners?” 


An adult vacation Bible school resource is available from Adult Lutherans Orga- nized for Action ( or 800-930-2562). At Zion, contact zionelc@

Good one! Holy time with elders

“Stories are sacred,” said Jay McDivitt,

a pastor of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Thiensville, Wis., after spending 90 minutes recording member Dick Reuter’s oral history. McDivitt ( is hoping to record histories of as many congregation elders as are willing, and has asked other members to join him in doing so. He records them on an mp3 player and makes CDs for the participants (and friends and families who request one). On his Facebook page McDivitt asked,

“Anyone with parents/grandparents whose stories you’d like to have recorded for the next generation(s)? Let me know. It’s incredibly holy time.”

Send congregational stories—both those for a specific month/holiday or your best timeless idea—to August 2013 41

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52