ReNew a green vbs

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Q&A: VBS Director Lori Cotter Shares Excitement for Upcoming ReNew Program

Earlier this month, we sat down with Lori Cotter of Sugarloaf United Methodist Church in Duluth, Georgia. She so graciously shared her perspective on ReNew: The Green VBS, that she recently purchased for this year's VBS week, and how her congregation works to be good stewards of God’s creation.

ReNew: What is life like as the Director of Children’s Ministry at Sugarloaf United Methodist Church in Duluth, Georgia?
Lori: What can I say? Being the Children’s Ministry Director at Sugarloaf is the best job I’ve ever had! Sugarloaf’s goal is to be relevant, and I can do all kinds of things to reach kids. For example, we’re in our fifth year of rotation model Sunday School where we get to teach children in a variety of way.  We call the program BLASt (Bible Learning Adventure Stations). 

Amidst other VBS programs out there, what attracted you to ReNew?

We stepped a little bit out of our comfort zone to choose ReNew. Traditionally, we have gone with another publisher with programs that worked but had become routine. Sugarloaf Kids Ministry wanted to use something that had applications to today and the ReNew program really shows that one child can have an impact. I think it is so relevant to what is happening in the world today.

When do you plan to implement ReNew?

In our church, we call vacation bible school our Sugarloaf Kids Summer Sensational because, really, who wants to go to school in the summer? Our program will take place June 14-18, 2010, and it culminates on Children’s Celebration Sunday. We will conduct it over five morning sessions that will last 3.5 hours each. Each day has a unique focus.
  • Day 1: Planting Seeds (“A sower went out to sow…”) – God’s love is a seed in me.
  • Day 2: Taking Root (Path & Birds) – God’s love takes root in me.
  • Day 3: Growing (Rocky Ground) – God’s love is growing in me.
  • Day 4: Facing Challenges (Thorns) – The love of Jesus helps me face challenges.
  • Day 5: Living Together (Good Soil) – We live together in God’s love.
Of all the activities and resources associated with your “Summer Sensational,” what do you look forward to the most?

I love the whole idea of going to worship sites. The “self” site is really showing kids that they can make a difference, the “community” site shows kids how to help their immediate environment, and the “world” site shows the young, even though they are so little, they can have a big impact on the world.

Also, I love the idea of using the same story – Jesus’ Parable of the Sower – over the duration of the program by highlighting a different portion each day. The activities are relevant and applicable to today, showing children what God expects us to do with the Earth.

How will you be putting your own spin on ReNew? What sort of thoughts and ideas do you have?

We’re going to take each area and the ideas from ReNew and write our lesson plans to work for us. We’ll put our own spin on the “self” site with crafts and for the “world” site with a mission spin and a project offering for the Navajo reservation in New Mexico our church supports. We’ll ask children to fill bags with toys and school supplies and we’ll share them with the kids at Pueblo Pintado.  And, the program will serve dual purposes. We will reuse all the supplies during our mission trip to the reservation in July.

Also, with over 600 kids, we have too many children to walk outside, as suggested in the programming, so we will be showing a video about the earth in our World Center and with the lesson that will compliment each other. I’m also looking forward to incorporating our on-site garden called God’s Garden into our ReNew Summer Sensational.

What other activities does your congregation do to be good “green” stewards of the Earth?

We recycle! There are bins in every department and for the week of our summer program we will set out compost bins. Also, we will provide reusable water bottles for the children during the Summer Sensational. They can reuse them during the program at our “water holes” and at home.

This year’s program will be “paperless.”  We will be going electronic.  From registration forms to our daily newsletter, we will utilize our website to do everything online.

Are you doing anything special for Earth Day this year?

We will do something; we just don’t know what yet. It will probably happen during the whole month of April because this year is Earth Year. Also, we will have an “Impact Wall” during April. Our congregation will have an opportunity to make a financial donation to our summer program to sponsor a child, children or a family.

Finally, why is it so important to teach today’s youth about taking care of the Earth?

I think it is important because you can go to the Bible and see that we’re supposed to be doing. I think we’re at a point where we’ve almost taken advantage of the Earth so now is really the time to recognize that it is here for a long time and we should start making a difference. I believe God made the Earth for us and we have to take care of it.

We’d like to thank Lori for taking the time to talk with us about why Sugarloaf purchased the ReNew Starter Kit and how they plan on using it. We’re so excited to hear they will be reusing the supplies and making ReNew their own; keep us posted on how the ReNew-infused Summer Sensational goes!

1 comment:

  1. Hello,

    We are in our week of the RENEW VBS at our church and we have had to tweek it a lot. The concept is GREAT... but, there weren't a lot of ideas to pull from. The teachers that are the site leaders are deticated teachers here during the school year; and I am the designated "Earth day" person that everyone comes to about ideas. So, we used some curriculm from the school year and stories and crafts that we would normally do.
    But, I do applaud your efforts and the fact that you created a wonderful idea and it weaves things beatuifully together.

    My only critizism is to offer up more suggestions(In case the things offered do not work).