Arizona Mission Network churches prepare for VBS 2024

By Irene A. Harkleroad, Photos by Olivia and Stella Frasca | Apr 16, 2024

Three Arizona Mission Network churches hosted VBS conferences during March and April.

A second Hispanic VBS Conference is scheduled for April 27 at Tierra Fertil in Yuma. Arizona Mission Network churches that register by April 20 and attend the event will receive a $250 credit for VBS supplies from the bookstore at the event. Learn more and register at

The conferences were held to equip and empower VBS volunteers to reach, serve and teach children about the biblical truths that will be shared this summer.

Leaders of the Arizona Mission Network of Southern Baptists recognize the importance of VBS as an effective evangelism tool. They also understand the financial burden purchasing VBS supplies might put on smaller churches. This year, the AZMN provided a $250 credit at the on-site VBS bookstore store at each event.

Fifty-five churches and 385 VBS volunteers attended the first three conferences. On March 16, Sabino Road Baptist Church in Tucson hosted 80 VBS workers from 14 churches in Catalina Association. On March 26, Iglesia Bautista Central in Phoenix welcomed 105 volunteers from 11 churches for the first of two Hispanic VBS conferences. And, on April 6, Royal Palms Baptist Church in Phoenix welcomed 200 volunteers from 30-plus churches for the State VBS Conference.

Kelcey Fry, VBS team leader for the AZMN and family pastor at HiWay Baptist Church in Mesa, prepared VBS leaders to provide the most inviting presentations about music, recruiting, safety, follow-up strategies and more at the State VBS Conference. Ideas and samples of theme-related crafts, decorations and snacks added to the festivities.

With this year’s theme of “Breaker Rock Beach,” according to the Lifeway website, “Kids will be challenged as they discover that God’s truth never changes, everyone needs Jesus, and learn to speak the truth in love. Adventure awaits each day as kids explore tide pools, spot orcas, fly kites, and watch the mighty waves crash up against the immovable Breaker Rock!”

“Getting trained for VBS is super important,” Fry said. “Based on data reported from churches to Lifeway, for every VBS leader trained there are 1.1 salvation decisions. We want to see more kids come to Christ, which means we want to see more people get trained.

“We’ve seen a lot of kids bring friends. We had a boy come and get saved when he was a fourth or fifth grader. Then he brought his sister. Then his parents, and all four of them have been baptized. Now he is a junior and serves at VBS, at our summer kids camp, and he’s on the leadership team at church.”

Jessica Barker, VBS director at Royal Palms Baptist Church, said she is always excited to be involved in VBS.

“I grew up attending VBS every summer, and it has always been an exciting and anticipated event that our whole church gets involved in,” she said.

“Through the years, I have been able to see how a week of VBS can have a lasting impact on everyone, from the kids attending and the parents that bring them to the adult and youth volunteers, Barker continued. “VBS can be used to present the gospel in a fun way that helps it stick in a kid’s brain, and they get to make fun memories at the same time.”

Irene A. Harkleroad, a freelance writer living in Carefree, is a member of Black Mountain Baptist Church, Cave Creek.

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