I have been known for most of my career as a singer, storyteller, and folk-theologian that resourced congregations in worship and in concert, primarily on Sunday mornings and afternoons. During the last 20 years, I went from being a spectator to a card-carrying member of the senior adult demographic and I began to do events specifically for the adult and older adult "saints and sages" of the church.
A new format emerged from an event I was invited to lead in 2015 in Mississippi. Senior Adult Vacation Bible School. Yes, that’s what I said. Adult VBS. Parkway Heights United in Hattiesburg, MS is a medium/large congregation with a sizable group of older adults. They planned a three day series and invited me to keynote their time together. To my knowledge no one had ever put on an adult VBS. I have since learned that while it is not a new idea, their format was unique. And this event was a great success. So much so that I returned to Hattiesburg the next year for a second VBS event as well as leading VBS events at four other churches in 2016. In 2017 I did 10 and in 2018, I did 16. So I've decided to make leading these events the center of my life's work.
The format begins with a Sunday in worship and in concert. My leadership in the Sunday morning services and afternoon concert, while not a part of the Vacation Bible School itself, is important in introducing me and my music and storytelling to the church community. It also gets folks interested and excited about the Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday sessions, encouraging attendance and motivating members to invite others to come. The Sunday afternoon concert ("It's Four O'Clock Somewhere") is a church wide event, giving members of all ages a chance to attend since the Mon-Wed VBS is an adult event.
The Bible School itself is held Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday mornings beginning at 9:30 with gathering and social time and then the Bible School sessions from 10:00 to noon (with a short break). Each session of storytelling, music, humor and worship ends at 12 followed by a potluck or catered meal. At the Parkway Heights event, about 80 adults, mostly seniors, attended each day. Events in 2016 and 2017 ranged in size from 60 to 120.
Here's a partial list of churches, conference & retreat centers and retirement communities who have hosted the Adult VBS Series -
Hattiesburg, MS ~ Parkway Heights UM Church
Wake Forest, NC ~ Wake Forest UM Church
Pineville, NC ~ Pineville UM Church
Monroe, LA ~ St Paul's UM Church
Hattiesburg, MS ~ Main Street UM Church
St Simons Island ~ Epworth-By-The-Sea UM Conference Center
Anderson, SC ~ Trinity UM Church
Winston-Salem, NC ~ Pine Grove UM Church
Monroe, LA ~ First UM Church
Coraopolis, PA ~ Coraopolis UM Church
N Augusta, SC ~ Grace UM Church
Mooresville, NC ~ Williamson's Chapel UM Church
Camden, SC ~ Lyttleton UM Church
Little River, SC ~ Little River UM Church
Hinton Retreat Center ~ Haysville, NC
Murrells Inlet, SC ~ Belin UM Church
Thomasville, NC ~ Piedmont Crossing Retirement Center
SR ADULT VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL
SR ADULT VBS
singer / storyteller / humorist / folk-theologian