Across social media, there have been concerns voiced about the original content of the Vacation Bible Adventure (VBA) curriculum we have selected for this year (that have been directed towards the publisher content, not our church specifically). This was concerning to us as well and we have addressed this and we wanted to communicate with you what steps we have taken.
We were aware of concerns prior to the current controversy and have been addressing the issues throughout our preparation. Every year (this is year 21 for Laura), we carefully choose and re-write curriculum, change activities to make them align with the values of BelPres, as well as keep them age appropriate.
We have found that curriculums are best used for bones of programs, primarily for music and graphic packages. We stick to the Bible stories as the basis for lessons, picking and choosing the activities that best share the Gospel and are inclusive to ALL children. For example, last year the curriculum we selected was a sports theme but we had concerns that it was only focused on children with full physical abilities. Realizing this wasn’t honoring to all children we expanded the content to include other activities so that it was inclusive of all children. We also adjusted our language and coaching to volunteers so that children of all kinds of abilities were welcomed and included in our program.
This year from our first meeting we chose to go with an animals and ecosystem focus and not push into one country, continent, or culture (Theme: Life is wild – God is good). We will always strive to portray others in an honoring light, both as individuals and as cultures, and have omitted aspects of the curriculum that do not represent our values at BelPres. The VBA leadership team is actively guiding our volunteers and coaching them to use language that does not lead to cultural appropriation or stereotypes.
We are happy to talk with anyone who may have concerns or questions regarding this. We are putting the utmost care into VBA to make it an enriching experience for all the children who attend, and we cannot wait to experience the lives that will be changed as a result. Life is wild, God is good!
Elementary Ministries Director
Family Life Ministries Pastor