When one church in Clinton realized that ServeNC would fall on the same week as their VBS in early August, the church decided to join the initiatives together.

When Maria Williamson realized her church’s Vacation Bible School was happening the same week as ServeNC, she had an idea.

The student ministry director of Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Clinton believed the calendar alignment on Aug. 3-10 was the perfect opportunity for her youth group to put on a Vacation Bible School (VBS) at Falcon Children’s Home for nearby residential students.

“I thought it would be a great time for us to revamp our youth involvement,” Williamson said. 

At the children’s home, the dozen or so members of the youth group will lead all aspects of the VBS, including the worship service, Bible lesson, craft time and recreation, with adults stepping in to facilitate as needed. 

“I wanted to try and tweak their involvement and make it something that they felt like they could really take ownership,” said Williamson, who’s also a fifth grade math teacher.

Back at the traditional VBS on Hickory Grove’s campus, the elementary schoolers will play a part in the ServeNC project, too. The elementary students will be collecting an offering and donations for the children’s home.

“That way, our whole VBS is one that’s moving in a direction of helping and serving this children’s home,” Williamson said.

Cultivating a passion for missions

Recently, Williamson introduced her idea of hosting a VBS with the youth group during their bi-weekly Wednesday night service so they could start preparing.

“They’re very excited,” Williamson said. Over the next several weeks, they will be assigning roles for the VBS and putting together the details for a fun week at the children’s home.

Williamson has high hopes that the VBS will not just be life-changing for the kids who hear the gospel, but for middle and high schoolers in her youth group, as well.

“I grew up in church my entire life, my dad was a youth pastor, and his passion was missions,” she said. “I would like for our youth group, and for the children that are coming up under them, to start developing that passion.

“I think missions is a way that not only can we tell people about God, but we can show them about that. I feel like a lot of times with community work, it’s just a way for you to give a tangible feeling of God’s love. It’s a way to feel the community around you; it’s a way to feel His presence. And doing that is by being (Jesus’) hands and feet.”

In addition to VBS, Hickory Grove does several service projects throughout the year, including participating in West Virginia backpack missions, supporting the Backpack Buddy Program to give to students in need, and helping local schools in other areas.

“Starting these children young, I feel like there’s a way that we can start to build a light through our community,” Williamson said.

Get involved in ServeNC

Whether or not your Vacation Bible School correlates with the week of ServeNC, there are numerous ways to serve your community. Williamson encourages churches to start somewhere.

“It can be a very nerve-wracking experience,” Williamson said. “Because if you’ve never done something like that before, you start to think, ‘Well, what happens if it doesn’t work? What happens if it doesn’t go well? What if no one shows up?’”

She advises church members to “go ahead and try.” 

“There’s no harm in trying,” Williamson said. “Whether you have one new person show up or 50, you’ve given a chance for someone to experience God’s love, wisdom and grace.”

Williamson left one final piece of advice for churches participating in ServeNC.

“Put forth your whole effort, your whole heart and just give it to God and see the change and impact that He can have,” she said.

On Aug. 3-10, over 900 N.C. Baptist churches across the state will join together to “ServeNC,” taking on service projects in their local communities. Learn more and sign up at servenc.com.