SMITHVILLE — Creating a more collaborative environment, three Smithville churches teamed up over the summer for vacation Bible school.
"Since early 2018, the pastors at First Baptist Church of Smithville, First Christian Church of Smithville and Smithville United Methodist Church have been working together to provide community worship services," United Methodist Church Pastor Rebecca Mulford said.
Mulford added the churches also have come together in recent years for other community events such as the community Thanksgiving dinner in November of 2018 and a community Easter service hosted the following April.
"These services operate on a rotating basis," Mulford said, explaining where service was hosted the first year of the collaboration will be different from where community meals will be featured this year.
Following these events, pastors from each congregation sought to expand their collaborative efforts, envisioning what a team vacation Bible school could look like. In the summer of 2018, First Christian Church and First Baptist held a combined school that drew around 36 children and 25 adult volunteers, Mulford said.
"I hope we will be able to continue doing it together," Meagan Jacoby of First Christian Church said. "We had a really good turn out and a lot of volunteers. ... Overall, I think it was a very positive experience."
The purpose of vacation Bible school is to provide a time of fun and learning for community children, not just those who belong to the congregations, Mulford continued. With that in mind, the three churches teamed together for school this summer, resulting in more than 60 children attending and with more than 30 adult volunteers.
"The theme was a western setting called 'Yee Haw: God Gives Good Gifts," Mulford said. Through VBS, participants collected items for Bridge Street Ministry's food and clothing pantry.
The partnership also helped the churches reduce costs by splitting school costs among the three churches.
"When we are partnering together and coming together to offer something, we all benefited from that," Jacoby said. "I think it's good for our kids to experience another kid's church. It was a good experience for everybody."
Each congregation is considering continuing a combined school in the future.
"In this time of disunity," Mulford said, "it is very meaningful when you can play and worship with families from other denominations for the purpose of loving and being loved by God."