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Churches combine physical, spiritual well being

| Tuesday, June 29, 2004

This summer Christian youngsters are learning to combine physical fitness with spiritual application through the activities at local vacation Bible schools.

"When you're spiritually strong it helps you in other ways," said Mandy Smith, co-director of this year's vacation Bible school at Christ Rupp Lutheran Church in Kittanning Township last week. The Bible school accommodated children from both Christ Rupp and Emmanuel Heilman Lutheran Church in Ford City.

Kindergartners and sixth graders alike learned themes such as love, acceptance, forgiveness and service through a combination of Bible study and physical activity.

This summer's Bible school theme at Christ Rupp was "Jesus Helps You Power Up," emphasizing high-energy activities and games for the children.

The outdoor activities, christened "Movers and Shakers Fitness Fun," consisted of relay races, sack races, tug of war and other spirited contests designed to heighten the children's energy. Each day the Bible school teachers related the physical activities to the overall theme of empowerment and energizing through Jesus Christ, co-director Diane Geidel said.

Both Smith and Geidel were first-time Bible school directors this year and said that they would be directing next summer's program as well.

"We had lots of help," Geidel said. "It went rather smoothly."

Brandon Bowser, 12, enjoyed what would be his last week as a student at vacation Bible school. Next year he plans to help coordinate the activities.

"I've liked it a lot," Bowser said. "We've done a lot of fun things."

At Franklin Union Baptist Church in Worthington, the vacation Bible school theme last week was "Son Games."

"We want them to team up and become followers of Jesus," Bible school director Sue Milligan said. "We hope that the message that we give will bring them closer to Christ."

Milligan said that the Bible is a guide for physical welfare as well as spiritual well being, remarking that she overcame a shoulder injury in recent months in time to direct the Bible school.

"The teachers come in with smiles on their faces," Milligan said. "We all work together to bring God's word to our children."

"Son Games" stressed teamwork among the children through Olympic-style games and gold medal crafts. Throughout the week the kids learned the biblical story of Paul, who lived during the time of the ancient Olympics.

Milligan said that Franklin Union's vacation Bible school has been one of the biggest promoters of God's word to the younger members of the congregation.

"It's a nice two and a half hours for children. It's a fun week," she said. "We can celebrate victory in Christ."

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