School starts this week for many in Chula Vista. Although our district is on a year-round schedule, the end of July is the official start of the new school year. Word got out that some children in our neighborhood were going to start school unprepared. And that is something the people of Saint John’s just could not accept. Our biggest outreach is education; we have a pre-k through 8th grade school, after all. But, to be frank, Saint John’s School, as great as it is, serves a particular segment in our society, which, by and large, can afford back-to-school supplies. Saint John’s educates the whole child, teaches critical thinking, creativity, spirituality in Christ, and instills empathy for others. Our graduates enter the top high schools in the county. From there, they have the opportunity to enter the top colleges in the country. But what about the children in our community that can’t afford Saint John’s School, or school supplies for that matter. Saint John’s supports them, too.
The origin of public education is based in part upon Horace Mann’s philosophy that education should be universal, non-sectarian, free, and that its aims should be social efficiency, civic virtue, and character. One could debate whether or not non-sectarian schools can actually teach virtues and character without a spiritual basis, but that’s a different Reflection. Senator Bob Dole once stated that public education should guarantee that every student has an equal spot at the starting line. Children need some basics in order to have that equal spot – good nutrition, a safe academic environment, and school supplies. There
are government funded programs that assist with the first two, but as for school supplies, it appears this is a great opportunity for Church outreach programs.
The Episcopal Church has many programs that get needed supplies into the hands of youngsters. And, thankfully, we are not alone in this endeavor. The Bridge Church in Murrieta is hosting a Back to School Bash where they give away school supplies, sponsor a free medical clinic for sports-related physicals, do student haircuts, and give away other stuff from pancakes to gently-used clothing.
This is good news, and maybe even Good News! Followers of Christ are banding together to assist needy children with much needed supplies for their scholastic careers. We are living into the blessing from the Letter to the Hebrews which is this: to equip us with everything good to do God’s will and may our work be pleasing in his sight. (13:21) Jesus said the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to things like yeast that leavens bread, a woman finding a lost coin, hidden treasure in a field, a mustard seed that grows into a huge plant. I believe Jesus would also say that the Kingdom is like 40 backpacks prepared for children in need, free physicals and back-to-school haircuts. I am certain that actions like these are pleasing in God’s sight.
I pray that we the people of God will continue to equip others and do the work of the Kingdom.