History of Vacation Bible School

You may remember one of our previous blog entries about Vacation Bible School, or VBS for short. We discussed why we have it, but many have asked about the history of VBS. Let’s take a stroll down into the past and see what we can find out about the history of Vacation Bible School!

There are numerous reports on the first Vacation Bible School, but the most well-known is with an Illinois school teacher named D. T. Miles. Miles started a summer Bible school to help supplement what she was not able to teach during the school year. From there on, word spread on VBS and other cities around the country participated.

Another founder of VBS is Mrs. Virginia Sinclair Howes. She was originally from Charlottesville, Virginia, but brought VBS to the Irish and Bohemian immigrants of the East Side, New York City around the turn of the 20th Century. What made her school so unique was that it was taught at a beer hall/beer garden during the day time. Since Mrs. Sinclair Howes was Southern Baptist, and the students were Catholic, it took little to no time to convince the children to join her.

While attending VBS, the children were entertained with music, crafts, storytelling and Bible stories. It would be full days that would last for a couple of weeks. Children were looked after, and parents knew they were in good hands. These traditions continue on in today’s VBS. In order to relate material from the Bible, many find it best to teach it in a relaxed and fun setting!

As you can see, VBS has been around during the summer months for numerous generations. A few things have changed, but much has stayed the same! There are fun and games to learn their lessons and in a safe environment (no more beer halls!). Sign up today using Parish Giving’s online forms. We make it easy for you, so you can focus on the lessons! Contact us today for more information.

*all information gathered from:


Beaty, W. R. (2009, April 21). Lifeway. Retrieved June 21, 2018, from Convention Press: https://www.lifeway.com/lwc/files/lwcf_pdf_vbs_2010_assoc_res_history_of_vbs.pdf

Gehrz, C. (2017, June 20). Patheos. Retrieved June 21, 2018, from Evangelical: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/anxiousbench/2017/06/vbs-brief-history/

Gertz, S. (2003, June 1). Christianity Today. Retrieved June 21, 2018, from Christian History Corner: https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2003/juneweb-only/6-30-43.0.html

Loving, B. (1958, June 27). First Vacation Bible School Was Held In a Beer Garden in New York in 1898. Daily Progress, p. 22.

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Retrieved June 21, 2018, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vacation_Bible_School