Something extraordinary is happening in the Boston area: churches are partnering with schools. Ruth Wong, director of the Boston Education Collaborative at Emmanuel Gospel Center partners with the Boston Public Schools (BPS) Office of Community Engagement and Circle of Promise, to help create these partnerships. Currently, 19 schools in the Circle of Promise have faith-based partners, and 24 more are looking for partners – could your church be next?
Rather than coming in with an agenda, churches simply come to schools asking, “What are your needs? How can we help you achieve your goals?” By going to serve, rather than to preach, people are beginning to see that the church is relevant and engaged in the community. In the words of former BPS Superintendent Carol Johnson, this is significant because “churches bring hope and schools need hope.”
These partnerships have taken many forms. Faith communities have provided schools with people resources, like mentors and one-on-one tutors. They have also supported families with material items, such as City Mission Society coordinating the donation of 500 coats to Russel School families. The Trotter School first invited Global Ministries Christian Church and Grace Chapel to simply clean the building. They also hosted teacher/staff appreciation dinners. But as trust has been built with the school, the two churches are seen as partners and are invited to celebrate together with the school for significant school events. Although school staff can be hesitant at first, gradually more and more are seeing the value of faith communities supporting the multifaceted underworkings of a school.
Some of these partnerships have transformed specific students academically, but it doesn’t end there. Ruth said, “When I hear about how a student or family is going through the struggles of life and a church is able to come alongside them, that’s what gets me excited and inspired.” At right, mentor match day at the Timulty with parents, mentors, and mentees
What would Ruth like to tell the Christian community in Boston? “As churches, we tend to create opportunities and programs to invite our neighbors to attend, but this is an opportunity to go and be invited into a school community to serve and love others in their space, to care for people who may never walk into the church doors on their own.”
Her dream is that each school in Boston would have at least one church partner. “There is an open door right now to partner with schools,” Ruth emphasizes. “This opportunity may come and go at any time, so in some ways, if churches would seize the moment and explore it, you never know what God could do.”
Many Christians speak about seeing their city transformed with the love of Christ. As you can see, church/school partnerships are an opportunity to make that dream become tangible.
Pastor Tom Griffith of River of Life Church asks, “What could be of greater value than to impact students? If you want to see change in Boston, this is the place to go.”
Next Steps to learn more about faith-based school partnerships:
- Check out www.churchschoolpartners.org
- Talk to your pastor and other people at your church to evaluate interest level
- Attend the informational session at Grace Chapel on February 12th and RSVP here
- Contact Ruth Wong at firstname.lastname@example.org