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Using talents to serve community

Christ Lutheran Church film talent within the congregation prepares for Vacation Bible School

Posted: May 10, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: May 10, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Herb Moore, long time member of Christ Lutheran and animation veteran, reveals “Ella the elephant” one of the stars of the first VBS video episode. Herb Moore, long time member of Christ Lutheran and animation veteran, reveals “Ella the elephant” one of the stars of the first VBS video episode.
Herb Moore, long time member of Christ Lutheran and animation veteran, reveals “Ella the elephant” one of the stars of the first VBS video episode.

This summer thousands of local children will attend Vacation Bible School (VBS) programs across the valley. In preparation for that, a team of talented movie industry professionals are hard at work on a special project for the VBS program at Christ Lutheran Church.
A small team chock full of talent with animation, editing, sound effects, writing, music and other film talents has been working for the last few months to create a series of videos for this summer’s VBS program.
The videos offer a combination of live-action and animation and tell stories about problems children often face along with Christ centered solutions.

“We wanted to give the kids something entertaining, but also teach them important lessons, like God loves you even if you are different or make a mistake,” said Judy Barnes, Director of Communications and Producer of the video project.

A Talented Congregation
Every year, Christ Lutheran buys a lesson package from a publishing house for their VBS program, which serves more than 500 children from the community.

The package typically includes a special theme, formats, craft ideas and videos for the VBS program. This year, VBS organizers were very dissatisfied with the videos which were included in the program.

For the last 18 years, the videos have featured a cartoon character named Chadder, who has adventures and learns about God’s love. This year the program changed to a mini-documentary format, dropping Chadder completely, adopting a serious tone.

“It’s usually light and fun,” said Kathleen Kahovec, Director of Children and Youth Ministries. “This year it wasn’t light or fun. We are trying to be an outreach to the community and introduce them to Jesus for the first time, we wanted more of a fun, adventurous theme.”

Instead of looking for another program, Barnes pitched the idea of creating their own series of VBS videos, using the many talented people within the congregation.

Many congregation members are veterans of the film and television industry, with talents ranging the gamut. After some recruiting and brainstorming, the team came up with an idea to combine live-acting with animation.

They created new unique characters, like Professor Peter Peppercorn and a playful cartoon elephant. The characters will go on adventures, learn new things about animals and learn about God’s love.

David Stenson is a film student at CalLutheran University and wrote all five of the scripts. He said he focused on what he thought kids would want to see while making it fun.

The videos have an animal theme, focusing on different animal groups each day. Each will also feature a theme which may talk about topics like God’s unconditional love or feeling left out.

“I hope they get the message of love and acceptance and everything God can do for you,” said Stenson. “At the same time I hope they enjoy them and are entertained by them.”

The team has worked for months, using special effects, animation, green screens, special sound effects and using a private recording studio to create videos they hope children will truly enjoy.

Kahovec initially thought the project may be too big of an undertaking for the team, but quickly realized the scope of the talent team members were bringing to the project. The team was also excited this project gave them an opportunity to use their talents to serve.

“This gave us an opportunity to use our talents to do something real special for kids that will be a real joy and teach important lessons,” said Barnes.

In spite of time constraints and deadlines, eventually things began to come together. As the team started to see the finished videos, excitement began to build for the homegrown film project.

“I am the most excited that it will accomplish what Chadder did all those years before,” said Kahovec. “I hope it gets the kids excited about learning about Jesus.”

Christ Lutheran’s VBS program runs June 23–27, registration for the program will be open until May 27. For more information visit



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