Kids dressed as popular characters from the Harry Potter book series are in the middle of a fun-filled, week-long vacation Bible school at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church.
Patch visited the church on Wednesday to see what all the commotion was about. Kids were found petting a snake and gazing wide-eyed at an owl, which was being handled by aviary expert Bob Baltz of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
The Bible school is titled Wizards and Wonders: A Hero's Journey with Harry Potter.
All of the magic-themed activities serve as a backdrop to the lessons the kids learn each day at the Bible school, which are centered on self-discovery and finding true purpose in life, said Sarah Lamming, the associate rector for youth formation at the church.
The concept of a Bible school themed around a book series involving witches and wizards may seem strange to some, but as Lamming explained, the books by author J.K. Rowling tell a lesson of self-discovery that's relevant to Christianity.
"Harry was really struggling with his identity and the gifts that he'd been given. And we're trying to get the children to discover who they're called to be and to discover the unique gifts that God has given them," Lamming said.
Instead of resistance to the teaching method, Lamming said they've actually been "oversubscribed" by local parents, with more than 110 kids enrolled.
On Monday, the kids walked through a makeshift Diagon Alley—a wizard's shopping district—for their wands and other accouterments. On Tuesday they played a game of Quidditch—a wizard-themed soccer match. On Wednesday they handled animals, and on Friday they'll play in a life-sized game of chess, with 6-year-old chess masters directing the action.
The kids have really gotten involved in all of the activities, and they're learning new things every day, Lamming said.
"If a gift suddenly bubbles up, we want to encourage the kids to really own it and use it with creativity for the good of the community," Lamming said.