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Pastoral Letter RE: Roar! VBS

Over the past several months, the staff and members of St. Philip Lutheran Church have been working with eager anticipation to welcome the currently 70 children registered for our annual Vacation Bible School from July 29th-August 2nd. We love the opportunity to be a positive church experience for children from a variety of life backgrounds and faith experiences as we share God’s unconditional love with them. As such, we were pleased to see that the daily messages of Group Publishing’s curriculum “ROAR!” proclaim this gospel with Bible Points such as -- “When life is unfair…God is good!” “When life is scary…God is good!” “When life changes…God is good!” “When life is sad…God is good!” “When life is good…God is good!” We believe this speaks to the heart of our faith in very real ways. And the curriculum surrounding these points helps our youngest believers to encounter these messages with fun and energetic experiences as they engage storytelling, art, science, snacks, service, games, music, and more. However, there have been recent public critiques regarding the ROAR! curriculum in a variety of forums, especially on social media, regarding the inclusion of inaccurate facts about Africa, lack of cultural intelligence and sensitivity, and inappropriate, racist activities. These critiques are real and valid. We deplore these racist ideas and we lament their inclusion. We have been actively working to implement Group’s subsequent suggested changes, as well as our own significant alterations when those didn’t go far enough. We have always made changes to packaged curriculum to meet our theological priorities and this year is a prime example. We are conscious to keep the gospel truth and discard any baggage. We pledge our commitment to being a congregation that teaches:

God loves you as you are - your race, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, age, socio-economic and employment status, physical and mental ability, political affiliation, and religious background - and so do we. You are welcome here!

I want to assure you of our respect and love of the diversity of all God’s children. If you have any questions or concerns about the kinds of changes that we are making to the curriculum, please do not hesitate to contact me. We can’t wait to see you in just about a month as we celebrate the great gift we have in Jesus’ love. Peace, Pastor Kyle

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