CANNONSBURG, Ky. (KT) – Pastor Dicky Tiller received some sage advice at his ordination service.
“Bro. Stewart put his forehead against my forehead, so there was no way I was going to miss him, and said, ‘Are you listening? You’ll do two revivals a year, Vacation Bible School in the summertime and give to the Cooperative Program.’ I said, ‘Yes sir.’’’
The words from the late Rev. Charles Stewart, the longtime pastor of Rose Hill Baptist Church in Ashland and a fervent supporter of VBS, have been heeded by Tiller in every way. He is in his 13th year as a pastor, the last 12 years at Liberty Baptist Church in Cannonsburg, and this year was his 13th completed VBS even during a pandemic.
Tiller's church put on a three-day virtual VBS. It included almost all the trimmings of in-person VBS. He and another church member delivered snack bags to front porches on a daily basis, Bible verses were memorized, Bible lessons were taught, crafts were made and missionaries came with a message.
“It seems like everything fell right into place,” Tiller said. “We’re doing a lot of deliveries to make them feel special because they are special.”
Liberty partnered with Wolfe Creek Baptist Church in Grayson for the VBS. They took the snack bags to staff there for them to give to children in that area who wanted to participate.
While most of the VBS was done virtually through Facebook Live, they found ways to make it interactively fun. The children were asked to send videos saying the Bible verses with their eyes closed and show selfies of the crafts they made.
“Anybody can read scripture from a Bible or off a poster,” he said.
The kids would squinch up their eyes tight and say the verse, giving their pastor a reason to be proud. The selfie craft photos drew some chuckles from the pastor, too. "Those both were a lot of fun," he said.
VBS is especially important for Tiller because it was through one that he was saved as a 12-year-old. He received his invite to VBS at Rush Chapel Baptist Church from the aforementioned Bro. Stewart. Tiller became a member of Rush Chapel, but was baptized by Bro. Stewart at Rose Hill. Rush, a mission of Rose Hill, didn’t have a baptistry at the time.
With that kind of VBS background, there was no way that Tiller said he would consider not having it at the church.
“We were able to do everything except the recreational activity,” he said.
Attendance was good based on the number of views the VBS was receiving on Facebook, Tiller said. It was touching around 200 on most nights. "If we had 30 come in person we were flying high," he said.
Jerry Foster, the pastor at Rush, was Tiller’s VBS mentor.
“He was a stickler for Bible school, and we were having Bible school no matter what," Tiller said. "He was a Charles Stewart guy, too. I learned Bible school from Bro. Foster. He taught me there was always a job for somebody. Maybe it’s just spreading peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.”
Tiller said he remembered a dear saint who recently died who considered it her job to make the sandwiches and pour the Kool-Aid at Rush. “Every VBS needs somebody like Betty Davis,” Tiller said. “That’s what she did. That was her job.”
The Liberty pastor said he was fortunate to have good workers at his church including Connie Barnett, who he called “Liberty’s Betty Davis” and youth pastor Johnny Bush, who did the Bible lessons and good friend Kenny Osborne, who helped him deliver snacks. There were several others who contributed to the success of the VBS, he said.
Amy Compston, a local missionary to Uganda who heads the Amy For Africa organization, and Bill Johnson, a part of Send Relief and Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief, were the special guests this week.
“They would speak during the Facebook Live and the kids could send in questions,” Tiller said. “I have several that I need to give Amy. They had some good questions.”
With another VBS in the books, Tiller said he was proud that he could follow the advice of his pastoring mentor.
“I had Bro. Stewart and Harold Cathey was the director of the Greenup Association at the time I became a pastor,” Tiller said. “Nobody could have had any better mentors than those two great men.”