U.S. Catholic’s Bryan Cones fondly remembers the summers he spent at Vacation Bible School with the Baptist and Methodist kids of Knoxville, Tennessee. These early experiences made him a better Catholic, he says. Plus, he even beat the Baptists at Bible Baseball.
I grew up in the One True Church: Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Knoxville, Tennessee, with Father Albert Henkel as my pastor. If you asked Father Henkel, all other churches were merely progressively lesser copies of the One True Church at Hinton Street and Central Avenue—beginning with Immaculate Conception about a mile and a half away, which, after all, was staffed by Paulists. The Baptists, Methodists, and other assorted Protestants were a further distance still.
Everyone who went to Holy Ghost agreed with Father Henkel that we went to the One True Church, but when summer came and despite the obvious danger to our souls, our good Catholic mothers still sent us to lesser churches for the religious equivalent of summer camp: Vacation Bible School, usually referred to simply as VBS. And it wasn’t run by those zany Paulists at Immaculate Conception.
Every Protestant church in town had a VBS. My favorite was at Beaverbrook Baptist Church (best cookies and punch), but the Methodists and Presbyterians could stage a mean Bible camp themselves. And even though not a single one of them was held at a Catholic parish, I count those summer weeks as among the most important in my religious formation. In fact I think every Catholic kid should go to VBS at least once in their life. Read the article and take the quick survey
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