By Sharon Mager
In an effort to build relationships and be engaged in their communities, Mid-Atlantic Network Baptist churches are loving their local schools, stepping up to provide needed volunteers, hosting fundraisers and providing encouragement to teachers and staff. This is just a small sample of what churches are doing in partnership with their local schools.
[boxify cols=”2″ cols_use=”1″ box_spacing=”10 0 10 30″ position=”right”]• Pray that schools would be willing to partner with churches and that churches and schools will find ways to serve their communities side by side
• Pray that churches would be willing to serve humbly alongside of their community schools in partnership
• As churches serve schools selflessly people will be surprised and want to know why we do what we do. This is a natural door that opens the way for people to follow Jesus who came to serve. Pray for these divine connections
• Pray that churches be the salt and light in their communities as they serve their schools[/boxify]
Sonrise Church, Berlin, uses the sale of tacos each year to raise between $7,000 to $8,000 for Stephen Decatur High School. The church has “$1 Taco Night” at the school, and it’s so successful the church doesn’t have to promote it, says Darryl McCready, pastor of SonRise. The school puts it on their electronic sign, and thousands of people show up making four food lines around the cafeteria.
“It’s a massive event,” said McCready. About 150 volunteers cook up 800-900 pounds of meat to make the tacos. They also prepare and sell desserts and sno-cones.
SonRise meets at the school, but the rent they pay goes to the school board, McCready said. The funds from the “$1 Taco Night” go directly to the school and the principal uses it for a slush fund that provides non-budgeted school supplies for the teachers.
“The school appreciates it,” McCready said.
SonRise Church’s partnership with Stephen Decatur High School as well as other local schools began with McCready and nine other local pastors from various denominations, who meet regularly together, approached the local school superintendent and asked, “How can we help you?”
The superintendent was amazed at the request, but responded that schools needed mentors. McCready and the others went to work and provided volunteers above and beyond what was requested.
In addition to the “$1 Taco Nights,” Sonrise provides “back-to-school” lunches for teachers with homemade food and gifts, barbecue picnics for seniors, backpacks, food for 60-70 children a week, multiple block parties a year, a huge community harvest fair, and other events working in partnership with the schools.
In Western Maryland, Grace Baptist Church, Cumberland, serves free monthly dinners to the community. Twice a year, the church partners with a local school to have the dinner in the school cafeteria. Church members provide, prepare and serve the food and the school promotes it to staff, students and families. The community is also invited to attend.
Now, some of the school staff and even some families from the school, show up at the church to help with the dinners throughout the year.
“Dressed in Love,” a ministry birthed out of Ashton Baptist Church, and led by Jennifer Williams, provides free dresses for girls attending prom and homecoming dances. Individuals and other churches donate the dresses to the ministry.
Williams gets the word out to the schools, and many young women respond.
“The moms know the amount they would have to pay for their daughters to go to the prom, or the homecoming dances,” Williams said. They’re very thankful and sometimes emotional.
Williams also meets with girls who are living with Foster Care families and they arrive with their social workers.
In addition to the dresses, girls are invited back the day of the prom or homecoming dance for makeup and manicures.
Summit Trace Church, Frederick, provides an appreciation lunch for teachers the week that school begins.
“We provide all the food, and we play hostess,” Summit Trace Pastor Pastor Dan Housam said.
The church also brings muffins and thank you cards to teachers on the first day of school, and at Christmas they take cookies to the school.
In addition, the church hosts a chili cook-off event for one school, with face painting and a moonbounce.
Joe Giles, pastor of student ministry, First Baptist Church of Easton, discovered a unique need at a local school.
They needed someone to sweep floors and clean up after basketball games. “I can do that!” Giles told them. And he did.
That simple, humble gesture brought some fabulous opportunities to engage the community. Giles has since built relationships with the school staff and with students and their families.
The church is now hosting block parties in partnership with the school, and they’re even leading Bible study for some of the students.
“God is just opening the doors and moving on the heart of our people,” Giles said.
Bethel Baptist Church, Ellicott City, has been building a relationship with a local elementary school. Church members have given coffee to parents dropping children off at school, invited the third grade children to present a musical program to the church’s seniors group, and the church has given backpacks with non-perishable food for kids in need. The school is also helping with a food drive to help the church provide for the needy.