By LeAnn Dilbeck
Salem Baptist Church in Nunley has quite a long history of large Vacation Bible Schools (VBS), and this year was no different. However, greatly differentiating this year from others was a dedication to two who both had very long histories with the Salem VBS, Joel Campora and Dakota Atkinson.
Joel was deeply rooted in Salem Baptist Church, having been raised at that church where his mother, Lyla, served as Music Director for years. Later, he and his wife, Rebecca, served as the youth ministers before accepting a new assignment with his job as an AGFC Wildlife Officer. He was killed earlier this year attempting a water rescue, along with Scott County Sheriff Cody Carpenter, in Y-City.
Making the presentation to the family were fellow brothers in Christ, Kevin Spurgin and Andy Brown, who had watched Joel grow-up in the church. Later, their children would be ministered to by Joel as he served as the youth pastor.
Rebecca, along with their two daughters, Bethany and Dacie, and Joel’s sister, Sheila, were present to accept the plaque.
Dakota Atkinson attended Salem VBS every year. At the tender age of 12, he was killed in a two-vehicle car accident in 2012. Salem Youth Minister Bernie Soliz made the presentation to Dakota’s father, Herbie, noting how Dakota was always his daddy’s shadow. While Dakota wasn’t at this year’s VBS, Herbie was there every night volunteering and investing in the lives of the children.
Averaging 50 volunteers from the church, they presented Athens – Paul’s Dangerous Journey of Sharing the Truth to the children and ended the week with a family celebration that included the presentations to the Campora and Atkinson families, performing songs, displaying artwork, and refreshments.
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