Every summer colorful signs pop up in churchyards all across Washington advertising vacation Bible schools in which young people participate in games, crafts and Bible instruction.
At age 29, Daniel Goldsmith was too old for most of them, but not all: Every Wednesday evening from July 4 to this week, Goldsmith, a buildings manager at the General Services Administration, has been attending Bible school along with 60 other adults in the Church of Christ at 13th and Irving streets NW.
Goldsmith would arrive early and wait in his car until school began.
"Sometimes I'm tired, but when I get there, I am excited because I see others who share the same spiritual aspirations," Goldsmith said. "The vacation Bible school, along with other Bible study, enables me to grow and develop as a Christian."
Because the church is located on a main artery leading to four hospitals, ambulances continuously race by, but inside on a recent Wednesday, the adult students had no problem concentrating on the overhead projector that displayed the lesson for the week, "Developing Church Leadership."
Lelon Sowell, an elder of the church, said programs like the vacation Bible school are designed in part, "so the neighborhood can see what is going on in here."
Tyrone Allen, minister of the congregation, was loading the class down with papers and Bible verses.
He looked like a college professor reviewing the class for the final. He asked questions of the students and lectured. "Brother Allen," as he is called, put an outline on the screen that instructed the students on the roles of leaders in the church.
While he talked, the adults listened and took notes, and turned to their Bibles to read Scripture to which Allen referred.
Hattie Davis, a retired employee of CBS, lead the group in answering numerous questions.
Allen said anyone who aspires to leadership should have "communication skills, be a decision maker, have spousal support, be respected among the people, be sound in the faith and be a man of the faith."
Junis and Sammie Mae Heath brought four children and five grandchildren to Bible study. "One of the main things in keeping a family together is being a leader in that family," Junis Heath said.
"If you have a leader in the family that sticks with his family, he won't have any trouble keeping the family together," said Heath, who is also an elder at the church.
Sammie Mae Heath, between chastising her grandchildren and looking for her husband, said her children have been coming to Bible school all their lives.
Allen said this vacation Bible school was the result of a belief that there is a great need among adults for Bible education.
"There is a greater need right now to hold families together," he said. "If you can't hold the family together then you can't keep the children."
At the end of the evening, the children of the church, who were having their own classes, came back into the auditorium for a song service. Because the songs were for children and required hand signals, the adults were no match.
By the time the adults had struggled through the tongue twister, "I Am Wrapped Up, Tied Up and Tangled Up in Jesus," it was obvious this Bible school was a chance for everyone to learn something new.