Spencerport church’s program helps teens learn about the Bible
This summer, St. John the Evangelist Parish in Spencerport will for the first time offer a version of vacation Bible school especially for teens.
The new Teen Bible School is for ages 13 to 17 and will take place Aug. 12-15 from 12:30 to 2 p.m. The program was organized by Pastoral Associate and Youth Minister Barbara Lake and teen parishioner Seth Edwards.
Seth, who is a teen representative on the parish council, said he has fond memories of attending vacation Bible school as a child and noted the lack of such a program for older youths. He felt that teens needed more opportunities to learn about the Bible so they would remain connected to and involved in church.
“I was thinking, we have vacation Bible study for kindergarten through sixth grade, but after that point, you’re only allowed to volunteer. There’s nothing targeted towards teens after going through confirmation, so I thought a teen VBS would be a good way to keep kids involved,” he said.
Lake had been pitching ideas to Seth about how teens can continue to live their faith and asked him what he thought of a teen Bible study, since the Bible is used a great deal in confirmation classes. Seth supported the idea, and he and Lake began developing the concept for Teen Bible School. To spread the word about the program, both Lake and Seth discussed it with teens during the parish’s monthly teen nights and also placed information in the parish bulletin.
For the past two months, Seth and Lake have worked to craft the Teen Bible School’s content. According to Lake, each day will have a set theme and lesson. The themes and lessons, which are based on readings from the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, will be:
• Aug. 12: The genealogy of Jesus through the eyes of his friend Matthew.
• Aug. 13: The seven covenants — family relationships. Learn the difference between a covenant and a contract.
• Aug. 14: Jesus — understanding the philosophy of verbal and nonverbal communication.
• Aug. 15: Unveiling the mystery of the Last Supper and the cross. Make the Mass come alive from a new perspective.
Lake said some lessons and themes were chosen based on her observations of teens during Mass. For example, she said some teens appear to tune out during the homily or Scripture readings because they may not fully understand what they are hearing, such as the Gospel of Matthew’s description of Jesus’ genealogy.
Seth, meanwhile, has observed during teen nights that some of his peers don’t completely understand the language in Scripture that they hear at Mass. He hopes participants in the Teen Bible School will be able to walk away with the ability to pick up and read their Bibles when they choose to outside of church and understand what they read.
“I want kids to be able to feel comfortable (with their faith) because some do walk into church confused, since they don’t know what certain names mean or which year (cycle of readings) we’re in,” he said. “The (Teen Bible School) program is about making kids more knowledgeable of the Bible and the language used, because the most important part is knowing the language.”
Lake said the program will provide teens with takeaway tools similar to what is done in part of the two-year-long confirmation program she teaches at the parish. Such tools include the Catholic Youth Bible and the Catholic Faith handbook that participants will become familiar with during the program.
“There’s so much to share with teens, and there’s so many resources that I want to help them to be able to live their faith and use it in the real world that they’re living in,” Lake said.
She noted that each day of the program will begin with a free lunch for participants followed by an hour of Bible study. The final day of the program will take place the same day that the parish’s monthly teen night is offered.
Although walk-ins are welcome, Lake said that registration for the program is encouraged so she can make sure she has enough food each day for the students.
For more information or to register, visit https://bit.ly/2LXAwUv.