Gaston churches partner with public schools
June 8 2001 by Bill Boatwright , BSC Communications

Gaston churches partner with public schools | Friday, June 8, 2001

Friday, June 8, 2001

Gaston churches partner with public schools

By Bill Boatwright BSC Communications Rather than worrying about what churches cannot do in the public schools, two Gaston County Baptist congregations are focusing on what they can do. The churches - one affiliated with the Baptist State Convention (BSC) and the other with the General Baptist State Convention (GBSC) - provide tutors for students with academic needs.

The BSC is made up of mostly white Baptist churches in North Carolina. The GBSC is primarily black.

"We work with these kids, praying with them and for them," said Frances Lark, coordinator of after-school sessions and a member of Tabernacle Baptist Church, the GBSC congregation.

The students begin each afternoon with a play period and a snack, followed by individual instructions with emphasis on the child's academic weakness.

Cramerton's First Baptist Church, the BSC congregation, provides tutors for the neighborhood's local elementary school. The program is considered a major ongoing ministry of the church, said David Julen, its pastor.

"The tutors from our church work one-to-two hours a week and provide individualized instruction for the students," he said. "We host a breakfast at the beginning of the school year to attract volunteers and then another breakfast at the end of the school year to show appreciation to the volunteers."

Julen and Ben Hinton, the pastor at Tabernacle, are committed to the tutoring ministries and their church's overall role in helping the public school system.

"I believe we worry too much about what we cannot do in the public schools and not enough about what can be done," Julen said. The pastors are members of the Gaston County Clergy Citizens Coalition, an interracial and interdenominational group that encourages area churches to become more involved in ministries of reconciliation in the community.

The local clergy group, to show their support for the public schools, feeds the entire staff of the Gaston County School System on the day of their convocation. The ministers take a bar-b-que lunch, furnished by sponsors, to the local schools and sit down to have lunch with the staff.

Julen hopes to see similar programs spring up across North Carolina, and even possibly affect the work and witness of both denominations.

"I believe the Baptist State Convention and General Baptist State Convention could launch a campaign of public awareness of the opportunities for helping public schools," he said. "We need to make people aware of the needs of local schools and more importantly, the opportunities for ministry there."

Such ministries could especially help students in grades three, five, eight and 12 who are now required to pass end-of-grade tests in order to move to the next grades, Julen said.

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6/8/2001 12:00:00 AM by Bill Boatwright , BSC Communications | with 0 comments
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