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UC’s Appalachian Ministries holds VBS in Canadatown


Williamsburg, KY- University of the Cumberlands’ (UC) Appalachian Ministries (AM) teamed up with the youth group from Crossroads United Methodist Church in Concord, North Carolina and two loyal volunteers from Perdido Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida and held Vacation Bible School (VBS) in the Mid-Springs Community Park in Canadatown. VBS was held from July 7th through 11th with over 50 kids in attendance.

“As usual, we have a great turnout this year,” said AM Director, Magan Atwood. “Appalachian Ministries has been doing VBS in Canadatown since the 1970’s. This is an area where we feel the kids need us to be and we love coming here each year.”


Like prior years, AM invited all kids, ages preschool through high school, to attend VBS. There the AM team and volunteers from the churches played games with the kids, sang songs, enjoyed snacks, made crafts, and most importantly, split up into groups according to age to hear of God’s love through fascinating Bible stories.

Two of the volunteers were not only blessed to see God at work this year but have had the opportunity to witness it for nearly 40 years. When AM was established in 1975, Lavenia and Tom Holly (Pensacola, Florida) were attending a youth group at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church. Their youth minister contacted the Home Mission Board looking for mission work and the youth group was assigned the project at Canadatown. The Hollys immediately fell in love with the children and the outstanding work of AM and decided to return annually.

“I honestly have a tough time even talking about these children and my experiences in Kentucky without tearing up,” said Lavenia Holly as she wiped her eyes. “All of these kids have my heart. Some of their stories they share are gut-wrenching; if I can hug them, tell them they are special, and give them the attention they deserve for one week, I am happy.”

Appalachian Ministries ran buses throughout the Canadatown community to try to provide transportation for every child who wanted to come to VBS. The children seemed to enjoy the events in which they participated. The older kids held hands in a circle and prayed after their devotion while the younger kids sang songs about God and let loose with the motions.

Lavenia Holly, 74, said that she and husband Tom, 76, are getting older and health issues are beginning to hold them back but they intend on coming to Kentucky for as long as they are able. Because the Hollys have been volunteering in the area since the 70’s, they have gotten to know many of the families and have even kept in touch over the years with most of them through letter, telephone, and more commonly now, Facebook.

“Some of these kids here are the sons, daughters, or even grandchildren of the kids we had in Canadatown when my husband and I first began coming to Kentucky,” said Lavenia. “They feel like family to me and I know where a lot of them come from and know their stories. These children are all so beautiful and when they accept Jesus as their Savior, the beauty of salvation is amazing.”

One Canadatown girl who was recently graduated from high school attended VBS with her two year old son on her shoulders, both grinning from ear to ear. She remembered the Hollys from her younger years and was so happy to have them teach her son about the Lord. She noted that the Hollys have shared their lives for so many years; their annual appearance at VBS is a wonderful tradition.

Located in Williamsburg, Ky., University of the Cumberlands is an institution of regional distinction, which currently offers four undergraduate degrees in more than 40 major fields of study; 10 pre-professional programs; ten graduate degrees distributed over eight areas, including two doctorates and seven master’s degrees; certifications in education; and online programs. For more information visit