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Vacation Bible school goes on galactic mission

June 12, 1998|By LISA GRAYBEAL

by RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer

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Vacation Bible school

From the outside, the red brick building looks like Virginia Avenue Baptist Church.

But when the double doors are opened to the sanctuary, the effect is not unlike stepping into the command center of a spaceship.

On Thursday, the "spaceship" crew members, dressed in white space suits, scurried around computer screens and flashing light panels as they prepared to transport vacation Bible school students into their galactic mission.

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It was a bit of "Star Trek" and a little "Star Wars."

"Plan a course to Star Quest headquarters," commanded Mr. Scott.

Between 50 and 60 students from preschool to sixth grade, eyes wide, waited patiently for the spaceship to take off on day four of their five-day mission called, "Star Quest: A Galactic Good News Adventure."

"Our mission is to know Jesus and to tell others about him," said the Rev. Richard Gross, pastor of the church.

The science-fiction based theme was set by the Southern Baptist congregations nationwide for this year's vacation Bible schools.

Volunteers and members of the Virginia Avenue church built the elaborate set in a month.

"A lot of kids don't like to come to church so we're trying to make it fun," said Brad Smith, 12, of Boonsboro, who navigated the ship in his white space suit under the name, Sulu.

Sulu, or Smith, and other members of an ever-changing crew, pretended to navigate the spaceship and monitor its progress around planets and satellites that could be seen through the ship's front window, really a video screen.

A short video with the day's Bible school message played on a large screen just off to the side.

The crew gave convincing enough performances in their elaborate costumes to be hunted down after the show by members of their young audience seeking autographs.

Luke Faithwalker, the ship's communications technician played by Garet Hanshew, 12, of Clear Spring, said he knew he wanted to act in the show as soon as he found out computers would be involved.

"We had to do something to draw them. It's curiosity that brings them in," said Larry Hose, who played one of the adult roles as Mr. Scott, complete with a Scottish accent.

The spaceship portion of vacation Bible school is used as opening ceremonies each night before the students are separated into age groups and are "blasted off" to their classes or participate in arts and crafts activities.

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