Bridgeport Presbyterian Church Vacation Bible School Takes Flight - Literally
By Connect-Bridgeport Staff on June 28, 2012
Children who attend Bible School on a yearly basis expect the usual – praise and worship, Bible stories, crafts, games, and the occasional snack. At Bridgeport Presbyterian Church, children got exactly that during the week of June 25 and something none of them expected – a visit from the West Virginia Raptor Rehabilitation Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to the care of injured, sick and orphaned Birds of Prey. On June 26, volunteers from WVRRC brought with them three types of Birds of Prey – a baby screech owl named Owlice, a red tailed hawk named Annie, and a bald Eagle named Thunder.
The visit, according to Pastor Robin Ray, was in conjunction with this year’s Bible School theme that dealt with a National Park reference.
"We always look for something to emphasize the theme," said Ray. "We wanted to do something for the kids that would be a memorable part of Bible School."
Ray, who has been pastor of the church for the past three years, said that the story for the evening also coincided with the visit from the folks of the WVRRC. She said it focused on caring for the multitudes. She said caring for God’s creatures followed the theme as well.
According to Mike Book, founder of the West Virginia Raptor Rehabilitation Center located on Bunner Ridge Road in Fairmont, the Center is comprised entirely of volunteers – medical and educational program presenters – who log more than 2,000 hours a year to educate the public on the sick, injured and orphaned Birds of Prey housed at their facility. Their hope one day is to eventually be able to release most of the birds back into the wild. Some of the birds, however, like Annie and Thunder, are permanent residents.
Most of the raptors housed at the WVRRC have been inflicted by collisions with cars, buildings, entanglements in fences, illegal trapping, shooting and poisoning. Book created the facility in 1983 to rehabilitate all raptors, which include hawks, falcons, eagles, owls and vultures.
Seven-year-old Bradey McMullen was surprised they would bring the birds into the church’s sanctuary.
"It was unusual that they were in the church," said McMullen. "They were pretty cool though."
Bradey’s favorite – the red tailed hawk.
"I had no idea that the red-tailed hawk is the fastest animal," he said.
His sister, five-year-old Ava McMullen took attachment to the bald eagle.
"It wanted to try and fly everywhere," she said.
Eleven-year old Bailee Jeffers also found herself infatuated by the bald Eagle. She said she enjoyed hearing Thunder’s story of how came to live at the WVRRC.
"I thought it was really interesting," she said. "I like programs like this. It was very different."
Eight-year-old Raelyn Vance couldn’t pick a favorite.
"They were all amazing," she said. "I liked them all."
Additional information on the WVRRC and the animals at their facility can be found at www.wvrrc.org.