"But Jesus said, `Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.' "

Matthew 19:14Salt Lake children this summer will have an opportunity to experience life as Jesus lived it, by enrolling in the Christ United Methodist Church's Vacation Bible School.

This year's theme is "Jesus, Our Friend and Teacher."

The school, open July 18-22, is for children age 4 through 6th grade. All demoninations are encouraged to participate.

"It's an annual tradition. It's both an educational and an experimental type of activity," said Judy Goold, director of the church's Childrens' Ministry. "It's also just plain fun."

The annual school is the church's "outreach" to the community. Goold said their primary goal is to reach children who haven't been to church.

"Christ's influence needs to be a very natural type of thing that begins at a young age," she said. "It needs to be an ingrained type of thing, so the teachings of Christ come naturally - as does love and caring for one another."

During the week stories about where Jesus lived and what he did will be told. There will also be weaving and pottery-making and games and dances taken from Jewish history.

The young participants will cook with dates, almonds and honey - ingredients that went into the foods during the first century.

The week's activities will culminate Friday in a first century marketplace, with the children serving as apprentices in trades practiced at the time of Jesus.

Music and such characters as a beggar and tax collector will add to the authenticity of the market.

Also that day, the children will make a caravan trip to a story teller, who will relate Bible stories.

The school, open each morning from 9 to 11:30, is free. Goold is hoping 75 to 100 students will attend.

Advanced registration is required and can be made by calling 486-5473.