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A van & a plan for children’s ministry carry Wis. church to Music Ridgecrest

RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP)–Racine, Wis., is a long way from Ridgecrest, N.C., but that didn’t stop one music coordinator and her team from making a journey they say was entirely God’s.

In a van packed with luggage, car seats, four little boys under the age of 6 and seven grown adults, Patricia Black’s team of children’s music workers drove more than 1,500 miles for Music Ridgecrest at LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center in June.

Black, fulltime music coordinator for Racine Bible Church, had attended a LifeWay conference held in Green Lake, Wis., the year before. Impressed with the curriculum and the people she met, she and her team were excited about learning more. But after 16 hours of driving, the thing first and foremost on their minds was sleep.

They had hoped to save a little money by reserving a small house they had been assured was right across from the Ridgecrest grounds. Instead, what they found was a house a couple of miles away that reeked of mold and sported a dead rat when they stepped inside.

Black hiked to the Ridgecrest campus and found a helpful LifeWay employee at the reservations center who, to Black’s grateful surprise, assisted in finding three adjacent rooms in a perfect location immediately across from the children’s area.

Their small ordeal over, the group quickly jumped into the week of workshops and seminars.

“LifeWay has such a wonderful music curriculum,” said Black, referring to LifeWay’s Children’s Music Series. “When you put a Scripture concept to music, you remember it. It definitely impacts these children.”

Racine Bible Church began using the LifeWay Children’s Music Series curriculum last year.

“While we were at Green Lake, we formulated a plan to use the children’s music curriculum as part of our Sunday School time,” Black said. “We kind of formulated a new program, tied in LifeWay’s scriptural material with a time of music to teach the Scripture concept and based it on the children’s choir curriculum.”

The spiritual growth children receive by learning Scripture at an early age is a major advantage of the program, Black noted.

Seeking to be protective of their children, Laurie and Paul Willems had volunteered to work with 4- and 5-year-olds at the Racine church. But Laurie admitted that she was not always comfortable teaching in her first year of using the Children’s Music Series. After attending the weeklong training, her comfort level has increased.

“Now I know how to use the material, what it means and why we’re doing each activity,” Willems said.

Ann Hall came not planning to participate in any workshops but simply to watch her small boys and spend time with her husband, Steve, who directs Racine’s first- and second-graders, when he wasn’t in class. The group discovered God had a different direction in mind for the young mother.

“The childcare was so great, they were so loving with our children and so well-trained,” Ann said. Because her children enjoyed the childcare time, she felt comfortable enough to leave them and go to the teaching sessions. As a result, she participated in the whole week and will now work alongside her husband at church.

The group came away from the trip with practical tips on classroom organization, teaching techniques and a new desire to equip their children with spiritual truth. They’re already planning to make the trip again next year — this time perhaps in two days instead of one.

“I wonder — do Southern Baptists realize how wonderful this resource is?” Black said. “I think LifeWay is an incredible resource for any denomination.”

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  • Sara Horn