THE SUNDAY PAPER presents
“GOD’S GARDEN, GOD’S CITY”
An Innovative Vacation Bible School
Based on the Journey of God’s People
God’s Garden, God’s City is a Vacation Bible School that offers both fun and substance, and invites exploration
and growth in faith. Grace Pritchard Burson, Episcopal priest and second-generation Christian educator, developed
the concept, and it has now been extensively reworked by Gretchen Pritchard in order to provide more detail and to link it
with the Beulah Land feltboard materials.
Garden, God’s City offers all the usual VBS fun and fellowship through Bible stories, singing, worship,
outdoor play, and crafts, but is also designed to:
- Acquaint children ages 4-12 with the arc of our faith story in its entirety.
- Through the consistent use of Beulah Land storytelling materials,
provide them with a coherent, visual vocabulary of the core symbols of our faith story.
- Present them with the venerable symbols of the earthly Jerusalem and the heavenly
Zion, both described with female imagery.
- Connect them with deep and powerful traditions of spirituality, both old and new, that draw from these sources,
and encourage them to make these traditions their own and to go beyond them in creativity and questioning.
Garden, God’s City is
simple and flexible. It
is adaptable to a variety of VBS structures including morning, afternoon or evening. Though intended for
a five-day week, it can be compressed into four days; detailed guidelines for doing so are provided. Simple
orders of worship for each time of day are provided along with the curriculum, as well as music suggestions, a variety of
crafts and games, and suggestions for a closing festival.
Each day has a theme, adding up to a story “map” of the journey of God’s people
which recapitulates our own spiritual journeys,
and also raises issues of stewardship of the earth; justice and mercy; and the communal nature God’s plan of salvation:
Day 1 – GARDEN
Day 2 – DESERT AND MOUNTAIN
Day 3 – LAND AND CITY
Day 4 – EXILE AND HOPE
5 – NEW CREATION
Each day of “God’s Garden, God’s City” begins and ends
with a Beulah Land story told in the context of worship. The opening story provides the main theme of each day; the suggested activities, crafts and projects grow
out of this story. The second story of each day serves as a link or a hinge to the opening story of the following day.
The final session of this program has a different format: it is mostly
devoted to a “journey” experience in the form of an obstacle course or scavenger hunt, followed by a closing celebration.
For those who don’t have Beulah Land, the VBS provides detailed alternative
storytelling suggestions based on a list of children’s Bibles.
In this way the children
may intuit how all the stories, strung together over the course of the program, add up to the single story of God’s
mighty plan of salvation.
God’s Garden, God’s City is distributed as a CD,
containing seven .pdf files: an introduction, a chapter of background material (including suggested orders of worship,
as well as thoughts on music, the use of space, doing art with children, and other topics); and one file for each of the
five days of the program.
It is designed to be printed out or photocopied on both sides
of the paper, punched, and kept in a loose-leaf binder. The entire curriculum is paginated continuously,
so that the pages, when printed out, are numbered consecutively through to the end of the material.
and photos are supplied in color on the CD.
“I’m always on the lookout for curriculum that emphasizes themes of earth care and inclusivity, and provides
lots of room for kids’ creativity and play. You just made that search a whole lot easier!”
- Rev. Collette Broady Grund,
Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Mankato, MN
god’s garden, god’s gity
The plan for each day is set out in a four-page summary: a gathering activity, information on
the opening story and song; a variety of suggested activities (typically, at least one outdoor activity, plus a selection
of crafts and other projects); and information on the closing story and song.
Click here to download a sample one-day outline
This basic daily outline is then followed by a full script of the Beulah Land story for both the
opening and closing stories; suggestions for telling the story if you do not have the Beulah Land resources; and ideas for
more complex crafts and/or extended group projects.
Order “God’s Garden, God’s City” by clicking on the “Order Form” tab.