By Bonny Van

The Catholic Commentator 

Visit any Vacation Bible School in the Diocese of Baton Rouge and you’ll find a similar format of activities of the week-long event: gathering, singing, prayer, Scripture readings, sharing, games, snacks and arts and crafts. At the adult Vacation Bible School at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Baton Rouge, the format is almost the same.  

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Barbara Haynes leads the adult Vacation Bible School at St. Paul Church in Baton Rouge. The adult VBS is held each summer during the children’s VBS.  Photo by Bonny Van | The Catholic Commentator

 

“We don’t do arts and crafts,” said Barbara Haynes, the adult VBS leader for St. Paul. “We do adult things like our Bible lessons. And, June 26 we’re going to do something on discipleship and how you go about doing that.”  

Wearing a red “Kingdom Crew” t-shirt, Haynes is enthusiastic about adult VBS. She said the leadership role was passed on to her four years ago by long-time St. Paul parishioner Eva Rodney, who also coordinated adult faith formation for the church. With a bubbly personality and a passion for “the word,” Haynes was the perfect choice to carry the torch.  

She uses the children’s VBS program as a guide, building her lesson around each day’s “major theme.” But having to create a Bible study lesson for a week is no small feat. Haynes does her own Biblical research and creates numerous handouts with each day’s outline of Scriptures, prayer intentions, references and questionnaires. Each attendee receives a packet of this information for later reference.  

“(Haynes) is really good with creating a plan and daily readings that follow you through,” said Makisha Anderson, a parishioner of St. Paul who attended the adult VBS while her two children were at regular VBS. “I have all of my packets from the past two Vacation Bible Schools because they’re that organized. And, it really helps feed you spiritually not only this week but throughout the year. It gives you a good foundation going to the next season.” 

Attendance ranges from 20 to 25 people each night and, according to Haynes, the class draws more than just St. Paul parishioners, including one parishioner from St. Agnes Church in Baton Rouge. Haynes said people from the surrounding Eden Park community also attend, including a deacon from a nearby church.  

The evenings kick off at 6 with children from VBS participating in an “opening” ceremony. Everyone is then dismissed to their groups, with the adults gathering in a portable classroom behind the parish hall. 

Once everyone is settled, with their Bibles before them, Haynes starts off discussions. On this night, she encouraged everyone to think of three blessings, starting with “simple things instead of someone winning the lottery” and cited smelling flowers or enjoying a sunrise as examples. Dialogue among the group followed along those lines, with people sharing their own blessings or referring to the Scripture readings and parallel events in their own lives. The lesson wrapped up with a raffle and prizes, delighting everyone. Then, the classroom was filled with beautiful voices singing acapella, “Since I Lay My Burdens Down.”  

“I love it,” said Janet Anthony. “It’s a continuation of what we do in regular Bible study on Wednesday nights so I love the fact that we’re able to get together and discuss topics in general from the Bible, and we can get together and interact.”  

The adult VBS has become so popular that those who attend ask for a continuation of lessons, according to Haynes.

“Oh yeah they think we’re coming back (the next week),” stated Haynes enthusiastically. “I said, ‘No, we’re just doing it one week! That’s all!’ ”  

And for those who want more, Haynes said some people join the weekly Wednesday night Bible study that she also leads. But for one week, every summer at St. Paul Church, adults can be part of something that remains very dear in both their hearts and their memories.  

“It’s worth it for me,” said Sonja Bowers. “We came to Vacation Bible School as children and as an adult I learn a lot because I do attend the Bible study on Wednesday nights. (VBS) is an extension and the group is wonderful. I think it’s great.”