Paul was Saul but he’s really Craig Taliaferro. Confusing right?
It makes sense to the 201 children and adults who were a part of Immanuel Baptist Church’s Marketplace Vacation Bible School this week.
Every two or three summers for 18 years, IBC has had Marketplace instead of regular VBS and this year’s theme followed Paul through his journey in Athens.
“Marketplace has become a tradition and it takes a lot of people to make it work,” said Barb Spradlin, IBC children’s minister. “Several of (the teens) working this year went to Marketplace when they were younger.”
During Marketplace, children and adults of modern days transform into people from Bible times. Each person is supplied with a costume, usually a robe of some sort and head attire if they choose, and a supply of “money.”
“Workers stay in character and some are ‘believers’ and some are not, so the children have chances to share their knowledge from this week,” Spradlin said. “There have been beggars, the blind and lepers and the children have to choose what to do with their money.”
One of the focused upon characters was Paul, portrayed by Craig Taliaferro. He had his own room inside the church where children visited to hear Paul’s stories of trial and triumph.
Money could also be spent in the actual marketplace, set mostly inside the church’s fellowship hall. From food, spices and jewelry to brick making, stone chiseling and pottery, there were plenty of options for the children for craft time.
Two of the most popular sections were brick making, where they could actually plunge their bare feet in to mud and then take the softened earth to the brick molds, and the fisherman boat, where there was freshly cooked catfish to snack on.
“We’ve had people catching fish for months to prepare for this,” said Spradlin.
For recreation time, the children participated in “arena” games such as the John the Baptist dunk tank and riding the grounds on a small train. Additionally, several farm animals were on site to be fed and petted.
Each day was begun with song, Scripture, a bit of acting and “family” chants. When children registered, they were put into family groups named after cities Paul had visited and a family leader took them to “tents” for lessons. The tents were inside classrooms that the leaders had decorated to look like an actual Bible time tent.
Through there is much costuming and decorating that goes along with Marketplace, Spradlin said they keep much of it in good condition throughout the year in order to continue using it.
“We may not do Marketplace every week but we do dress up in costumes and have fun a lot,” she said.