Thursday, September 19, 2013

Transformation begins with faith, and continues with Education

I had the privilege of attending a faith and education breakfast forum led by Dr. Condoleezza Rice.  In addition to serving as Secretary of State, Dr. Rice teaches at Stanford University and served as Provost prior to her government service.  While reflecting on her family and upbringing, Dr. Rice called education "an article of faith" as she shared the ways in which faith and society's need for quality education were deeply intertwined.

She stated "each and every individual has intrinsic value."  We understand these words in the Christian faith as acknowledging that every person is a beloved Child of God, beautifully and wonderfully made.  As we gather in worship, we remind our community that each individual is to use their God given gifts to transform the world and make Christ known.  The connection between education and faith, Dr. Rice explained, is this transformation--for "transformation begins with faith, and continues with education."

As people of faith, we are to care deeply about the quality and access to education of all of God's children.  The call to "do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God" includes using our gifts to ensure that each child of God can fully use their gifts. 

Understanding the transformational power of the Gospel, and the ways in which education continues to transform our communities, coupled with our call to care for all within our midst, every Christian, and every congregation must ask the question "how do we use the transformational power of God to impact education?"  For some congregations, the answer is activism at the state and national level.  Some communities are called to open charter schools, or provide after school tutoring programs.  As you ask this question in your congregation, I offer you some of the ways in which Holy Trinity Muncie has answered this call and continues to challenge ourselves to grow in this area.

Our congregation council discussed this topic at our last council meeting, and we discerned we respond through prayer, information, and outreach.   

Prayer:  In our city, the Muncie Community Schools is facing significant financial challenges and the possibility of a reconfiguration of the current two high school model.  We have committed to pray for all who are impacted--students, parents, and teachers, as well as those who are making difficult decisions--administrators and school board members.  We continue to provide direct support and care to those in our congregation who work in the area of education.  In the coming months, we will share cards of thanks to teachers and leaders at a local elementary school.

Information:  Part of transformation is awareness.  We are committed to holding forums and providing discussion opportunities so our congregation is informed of the education issues impacting our community.  Our leaders stay informed on issues that relate to education and other issues that impact our community.  We are to call upon the Holy Spirit to provide guidance to those who make decisions as part of their vocation.

Outreach:  Transformation occurs within and beyond our walls.  We reach out to approximately 80 children each summer, providing meals and an introduction to God's love through our Vacation Bible School program.  We help to ensure teachers and children have necessary supplies each fall with our back to school backpack drive.  A local child care center for at risk children has a library, thanks to the generous donation of 500 books given by the Holy Trinity community.  Foster parents receive monthly education and support in our fellowship hall while Head Start Children have a brighter Christmas season through our partnership.  Many members use their time to volunteer in schools, helping students foster a love of learning.  In the coming months, we will expand our conversations with education leaders and find ways we can more fully support their transformational work.

Dr. Rice stated "high quality education is the civil rights issue of our day" and that "the greatest threat to our national security is not a foreign terrorist, but the fact that one can look at your zip code and determine your educational success."  We, as the Body of Christ, have the power to transform, to lift up all God's children, and to use our gifts to the Lord's glory.  Let us continue to demonstrate our faith through our passion for education.

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