First United Methodist Church Garland is starting a One + One program at its church. Earlier this month the church met with their school partner to discuss how they can best work with them. In addition to developing one to one relationships with students, you may be surprised at the other way the church will be helping the school this coming year. Senior Pastor Valarie Englert shares the story.
A few of our congregation’s leaders and staff met with the principal and vice-principal of the elementary school closest to us. The principal seemed surprised when we asked an open-ended question: “what would you say your greatest need is? What breaks your heart when you come to work every day?”
The principal thought for a minute, and replied that most churches don’t ask such questions. Many churches, he said, come in with a specific thing they want to do, whether or not it is helpful or something the school actually needs.
He then proceeded to share his heartbreak. A significant number of his students deal with homelessness from time to time, whether for reasons of eviction, fire, family dysfunction, or for some other reason from a long list of reasons. “It would be so nice,” he said, “if I could pick up the phone and call someone or some group that could provide a soft place to land for that family – a place where they could sleep, eat, do laundry, take showers, and where the kids could do their homework. The kids could still come to school, and have less disruption in their lives. We have no such place to call.”
As a result, our congregation is seeking to provide that “soft place to land” by converting a small building the church owns into a dwelling which will provide short-term housing for these families. This is the need that has been placed before us, and it is our God-given call to respond to that need.
Communities in Schools identified homelessness as one of the top five unexpected reasons kids drop out of school. FUMC Garland is responding to this real need in its community. How will you respond this coming school year to the needs in yours?
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