Vital Families in Schools, a new initiative of the CityChurch Network, seeks to unite churches in partnering with schools to strengthen families with the vision of every school having multiple church partners. All over our community, churches who were a part of the recent VFS Summit in July are reaching out to school partners to help meet the needs of students and their families.
The foundation of any fruitful effort is prayer – and many churches took time to pray as the school year started. St. James United Methodist Church is partnered with Fulbright Elementary School and had members sign up online to join together on the Sunday night before the start of school at Fulbright and other schools around Little Rock to pray for the welfare of the teachers, administration, students, and families.
There are unique needs amid a global pandemic, and churches have been providing needed supplies like water bottles since water fountains are off-limits in schools. Others, like Otter Creek Assembly of God Church, are providing PPE supplies of sanitizers and wipes to help teachers and schools in their efforts to make schools safer amid COVID concerns.
Strong, positive relationships are the foundation for a great partnership. Many churches are investing in forming and growing relationships with those in the schools. One church, Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock, connected with teachers, students, and their families at Terry and McDermott elementary schools in conjunction with their “Meet the Teacher” events. They distributed Kona Ice treats in the apartment complexes directly across from the schools and were able to connect with over 300 teachers, students, and family members. They had a volunteer connect team that was specifically focused on welcoming and interacting with all who came. This is part of their overall “Operation School’s Back” partnership effort that also includes:
- Teacher Appreciation Initiative – giving staff/teacher appreciation packs to 150+ teachers and staff in both schools
- Stock the School Initiative – purchasing bulk supplies for both schools since they anticipate higher supply needs due to COVID
- Adopt a Classroom Initiative – adopting all classrooms with new teachers
- Chalk the Walk in which members will pray and chalk encouraging statements along the schools’ sidewalks.
Whether the efforts are big or small, the point of Vital Families in Schools is that EVERY church can do something in partnership with an area school to support students and their families. If you would like more information on how to get your church involved and connected with this initiative, please email Mary Carol Pederson, Vital Families in Schools Team Leader, at firstname.lastname@example.org.