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Vacation Bible School – At Home!


It’s hard to overstate the impact COVID-19 has had on our communities and our worship experiences. Summer 2020 has begun with a great deal of uncertainty – about our health, the health and well-being of our neighbors, jobs and more. But these past few months have revealed in surprising ways what we have known by faith – God is still at work in our world, inspiring hope, motivating change and leading us to a brighter future. And many congregations have been hard at work, adapting to meet the new needs and changing landscape of worship and faith formation.

To help with this, ELCA World Hunger is delighted to share an adapted version of this year’s Vacation Bible School: “On Earth As in Heaven…At Home!” This adaptation simplifies some of the activities in the original leader’s guide, offers tips for doing crafts and games at home, and provides links to pre-recorded videos you can share.

“On Earth As in Heaven…At Home” Leader’s Guide

The new leader’s guide for this at-home VBS provides simplified instructions for a shorter schedule, as well as alternative activities for parents or caregivers to use at home. The small-group times from the original format have been re-structured into short bible studies, with tips for hosting an online meeting or for households doing the activity on their own. We also included tips for helping children use a journal as part of the small-group times.

New game ideas have been added with an eye toward smaller households doing them, rather than large groups, and new craft ideas can be done with both younger and older children at home. There are also links to the songs for “On Earth As in Heaven” and to pre-recorded videos.



We are also happy to share that we have pre-recorded videos for the skits and for the Story Time station for “On Earth As in Heaven!” The skits were recorded and performed by Paige and Alexis Greve. There are five videos – one for each day – and these can be shared, posted to your congregation’s website, or played live during online gatherings. Each skit helps introduce the theme for the day.

There are also five skits that tell the stories of projects supported in part by ELCA World Hunger. ELCA churchwide staff tell the stories in the videos, so in each one, children will meet one person who works for the ELCA and hear the story of our neighbors working to end hunger around the world. Each story also includes some fun facts about the countries featured.

All of the videos can be viewed or downloaded from the ELCA’s Vimeo showcase page at



ELCA World Hunger also has original music for “On Earth As in Heaven!” There is a song for each day, and you can find zipped folders for each song on our resource page at Each folder will have a recording with vocals, an instrumental recording and a songsheet with chords.

In the leader’s guide for “On Earth As in Heaven…At Home,” we included a permissions letter that details the rights your congregation has to fair use and sharing of the songs and other materials associated with “On Earth As in Heaven.”


This adaptation of VBS for 2020 is the product of many conversations with leaders across the ELCA who provided their input and suggestions as it came together. All of the materials were developed, too, with the generous support of gifts to ELCA World Hunger, and we are happy to provide them for free because of this. If you use “On Earth As in Heaven…At Home,” please consider inviting participants to continue supporting the work of our church toward a just world where all are fed.

If you have any questions or feedback, please contact Ryan Cumming, program director of hunger education for ELCA World Hunger, at, or Brooke De Jong, program assistant for hunger education, at

Blessings in your ministry!


Gathering Hopes and Goals, Part I

– Molly Beck Dean

Faith formation in teens is the mission of the ministry of the Gathering.  It is the hub from which all things come for the tAble, MYLE, and the Gathering. We strive to create environments and opportunities for faith formation through worship, Interactive Learning, Bible study, Service Learning, and fellowship. Some of the faith formation experiences at the Gathering can be replicated – you can bring them to your home, congregation, or synod and create the same experience for others there. Some are unique to this ministry because of its size and scope.

There are also several hopes or goals that I have for those who come to the Gathering, especially the youth participants.

The first is that they are both affirmed and challenged in their faith. I hope that at least once during their time with us that each young person feels the undeniable presence of God and is affirmed in their beliefs. Likewise, I also hope that each participant has a moment where something troubles their heart or their mind enough to challenge their faith. Maybe they have to rethink what they have been taught about God. Maybe their heart breaks over a story they hear and they have to wonder why God would let such a thing happen? Our faith is deepened on the mountaintops and in the valleys.  It is my hope that participants can be vulnerable enough to let both happen while they are at the Gathering, surrounded by caring adults and peers.

MYLE, the tAble, and the Gathering are opportunities to experience new perspectives. It is my hope that youth and adults will open their minds and hearts to let in those perspectives. For some, that will happen in NRG Stadium through a speaker’s story that is different or even contradictory to their own story. For others, the new perspective is being in a large city. Others will experience a new perspective by learning the story of the organization and people they serve with on their Service Learning day. No one is trying to change another person’s mind on an issue or invalidate one story in exchange for another, but rather we seek to expose our participants to stories, sensations, and situations that are new and encourage growth.

Intentionally, and often completely unintentionally, we know that the Gathering is a place for young people to ponder who God is calling them to be. Vocation is how we live our baptism out in daily life, how we are the hands and feet of Jesus in our corner of the world. The Church needs to have a stake in the development and understanding of our young peoples’ vocation. Gathering leadership hopes and plans for moments of “aha!” as our young people meet inspirational people, hear their stories, and then listen to the nudges of the Holy Spirit calling them to something similar in their lives. Almost every time I’m at an event representing the Gathering, someone will tell me that the Gathering helped them realize they were meant to be a social worker or a volunteer or a youth director or an advocate and on and on.