“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
— Ephesians 2:10
EDMOND — A relatively new United Methodist congregation recently held a vacation Bible school created for children with special needs.
The Bible school, held July 28-30, was the third summer event for children offered by Summit United Methodist Church.
The Rev. Allen Buck, senior pastor, said he founded Summit two years ago, and the congregation meets on Sunday mornings at Cimarron Middle School, 3701 S Bryant.
Buck said his wife, Erin, is the church’s children’s ministry leader and a special-education teacher at Edmond’s Sequoyah Middle School. She came up with the idea for the vacation Bible school, with input from church members who have children with special needs.
Erin Buck said she and several members of the congregation thought the vacation Bible school would be well received because there aren’t many similar events and activities being offered locally. She said the Bible school for children ages 4 to 16 was primarily promoted through Facebook and word-of-mouth, and about 30 children attended each night, which she considered a nice crowd.
The event theme, “I Am a Masterpiece,” based on Ephesians 2:10, was considered an appropriate way to capture the spirit of activities that emphasized diversity and inclusion.
“All children were created by God, and all children are amazing. We just wanted to celebrate our differences,” she said.
Erin Buck said Bible school participants included children with special needs such as those with autism spectrum disorders, as well as their siblings. Autism spectrum disorders are a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. The event also included youths and their parents who were simply interested in being part of the faith effort.
Activities included science experiments, an Extreme Animals session and music.
Erin Buck said a Bible story was told each night, and children who were not able to sit and listen to the story in traditional fashion were encouraged to play in several portable sand boxes that included toys related to the story being shared. Also, she said several rooms were available where parents and volunteers could take children who needed to continue the Bible school activities in a quieter environment.
Kids often miss out
Daniel Teigen said he and his children, Lucas, 6, Lincoln, 5, and Madison, 2, enjoyed the event, particularly because it was something designed with his sons in mind. He said Lucas has a form of autism known as Asperger syndrome, and Lincoln has what he described as “classic autism.”
“There’s just not a place where families like ours have an outlet,” Teigen said. “It’s nice to be able to get out and have activities that are autism sensitive.”
Julie Ezell, of Edmond, said her family had attended numerous churches before finding a home with Summit two years ago. She said she was pleased that her 9-year-old son who has autism had an opportunity to take part in a summertime tradition like vacation Bible school.
“I feel like for the first time he’s experiencing God through the music and the message” of vacation Bible school, she said.
“Some churches have Sunday activities for special-needs kids, but there are no vacation Bible schools for special-needs kids that we know of. My son has missed out on so many things that other kids experience, so we thought this is great.”
Allen Buck said he would like his congregation to be known as “the church that loves people,” and the unique Bible school is in keeping with that.
“I think this is a prime example of what’s emerging here at Summit,” he said.
If you go
Summit United Methodist Church