Several hundred children of all ages learned Bible stories through live action experience Saturday during the Crown of Life Lutheran Church's fourth annual "Walk with the Animals."
Parents and children piled into the Washington County Fairgrounds' Junior Fair Building to decorate animal masks, participate in a parade and decorate balloons, said Pastor Joel Vogel, who dressed as Noah and led the children to a replica of the ark.
At the ark, Vogel told the children the story of how Noah built the enormous boat at the instruction of God and gathered pairs of animals into it before the world was flooded with rain for 40 days and 40 nights.
JOLENE CRAIG Special to the Times
Waterford resident Mason Wells, 4, gets a kiss from poodle Belle Saturday during the Crown of Life Lutheran Church’s fourth annual “Walk with the Animals.”
"It is really a great way to help children learn about the stories in the Bible by reliving them," said Diana McGraw of Marietta.
McGraw brought her twin sons, David and Michael, 4, to the event because it seemed like something the boys would enjoy.
"I saw an announcement, and it seems like a good idea to help get children interested in the Bible," she said. "We need more events like this in the area."
The event was started four years ago as an alternative to traditional vacation Bible schools that are often held by churches in the summer months, Vogel said.
"Four years ago we were looking for something different to do as opposed to the usual week-long VBS, and we had heard about this program and changed it to fit our needs," he said. "So far, it has worked out great."
In the past, the event has had live animals, including snakes. This year the only animals available to pet were two poodles. But in addition to the dogs and the ark-themed activities, there was cornhole, balloon decorating, an inflatable jump that resembled Noah's ark and performances by contemporary Christian band the Heralds, from Wisconsin.
While the event takes the place of the church's vacation Bible school, it was open to anyone who wanted to learn and have fun.
"We figured that not only is the day a great way to help children understand the teachings of the Bible, but it also gets our name out into the community and allows us to share the gospel," Vogel said.
As for the replica ark, the same frame is used every year, but the exterior changes to allow children to get even more involved and add their own touches.