Chehalis Steps Into the Sanctuary

September 24, 2016 | Heidi Baumgartner

Jennifer Hubbard’s sons were playing outside about a week after Vacation Bible School in Chehalis. They spotted a little girl in the neighborhood and instantly recognized her from VBS. Before long, the VBS friends reunited.

It was the type of moment that makes VBS special. “Nearly half of the 80 children who came to VBS came from the community,” says Hubbard, who led Chehalis’ VBS program, held July 18–23, with a team of 25 nightly and 40 overall volunteers.

The “Egypt Files” theme was a natural choice for the locally developed VBS curriculum. The church’s Pathfinder Bible Experience team recently studied the stories, facts and details of Exodus for three rounds of 90-question quizzes at the conference, union and division levels last spring. They were among the first-place winners at each of the quiz events.

Lewis County Adventist School in Chehalis also integrated the Exodus story into the school’s week of prayer and made a scale model of the wilderness sanctuary complete with indoor-approved special effects, full-sized furniture and a two-thirds-sized sanctuary.

For VBS, each of the three nightly activity stations connected to the Israelites’ Egypt experience and escape. Bible story time shared the context of nightly themes. Age-appropriate crafts (like making a tissue paper burning bush for younger children or building a small-scale sanctuary diorama for older children) and outdoor games provided hands-on learning and interaction.

The evening programs also included wilderness sanctuary tours, Egypt-themed songs with live musicians, a short Bible skit and an interview with the high priest (played by senior pastor David Glenn).

“We make sure we meet in the sanctuary twice every day,” says Hubbard. “We need to teach children what is so great about the sanctuary. God is saying, 'Be with me. I want to be with you.'”

The drama team specifically wrote the nightly 10-minute script in language children could easily understand and used an archaeologist as a storytelling narrator.

“We wanted to share a message that Pharaoh was relying on his gods versus the true God,” says Sonia Huenergardt, VBS team member.

The focus on the sanctuary is far from over in Chehalis. A Tuesday night Bible study for a growing group of participants ages 10–80 is now studying the sanctuary too.

“The sanctuary is so beautiful,” Hubbard says, “because we’re asking for God to be right here with us.”