ALTON -- Students participating in the Bible and Arts program at the Victory Free Will Baptist Church in Alton have something to be proud of. They recently went to the National Bible and Arts competition in Charleston, W. Va., and came home with several honors.
The program started at the church about three years ago and at first was called Church Training Service (CTS). Teresa Wallace, a former art teacher at Couch and Alton Schools, is the director of the program.
"A visiting church from St. Louis brought the program to our church about three years ago. They had puppets and shared with us what was then their CTS program," Wallace said.
The students in her church liked the program and those in grades first through 12th decided to start their own program.
"We started with just puppets and Bible memorization. I got a book that told the Bible and Arts competition guidelines and we started practicing on Wednesday nights," she said. Wallace said her being a former art teacher really helped with the program.
Last year they took their puppet project to the state Bible and Arts Festival in Springfield and came in second place in the state.
"We enjoyed our trip to the state competition so well we decided to expand. There are several different categories the children could have entered. When we came back home we began working on photography, art work, drama, computer Power Point presensation, sign langrage and singing," she said.
This past June the Bible Arts program went back to Springfield, back to the state competition, and received a first place in all six categories they practiced and entered.
"That allowed us to go to the National Bible and Arts competition last July in West Virginia. The church provided a way for us to go. They chartered a bus for us and have been very supportive. Twenty-five parents and kids made the trip. We had the best time and it was a good experience for the children. We thank our pastor, Matthew Todd, his wife Cathy and the entire church for their support," Wallace said.
One hundred points was the most points that could be made in any of the categories the Alton group entered. Although they didn't make 100 points in any category, they did well. At the national competition they focused on two main categories, puppets and drama. Their puppet presentation received 98 points and their drama presentation received 95 points.
Norma Christopher is the drama coordinator; the puppets are a group effort; Kelly Orr is over sign language; and Jeri Rackley is over the music program in the Bible Arts program at the church. Wallace said other helpers include Renea Church and Dawn Holman.
Some of the individuals and partners that placed at the national convention were:
* Danielle Zook, first place in art.
* Michaela King, second place in painting.
* Aubrey King, second place in painting.
* Allison Wallace and Michaela King, third place in Power Point.
* Tori Bates and Rickie Lee Morris, third place in sign language.
* Hannah Wallace, first place in art and photo essay.
* Carli Holman, first place in mixed media.
"This whole thing has inspired me and inspired the children in our church. We want to go to other churches and share with them what we have learned," Wallace said.
On Oct. 21 the Victory Free Will Baptist Church will be taking their Bible Arts program to the Oak Hill Missionary Baptist Church and on Oct. 1 they will be going to the Byrd Church.
"We are then going to take a break and start looking at some new ideas for our Bible and Arts program," Wallace said.