Like many parents of school-age children, I am wondering what the upcoming academic year will look like. I cannot imagine how difficult it is to make decisions about the school year. These decisions are complex – What is best for all children. For teachers. For parents? Any decision made will be imperfect and no doubt will be highly criticized by some. My thoughts frequently turn to children in our churches and communities, our school teachers, and other school employees such as bus drivers and cafeteria workers. Given all of this, what will our response be as the church?
I know many of you have been praying and thinking about this over the last several weeks. I invite you into conversation about how we as a district might respond. If you have ideas, please email me and be in touch. Reach out to the school teachers you know in your congregations and neighborhoods for conversation and to share a word of encouragement. Be in touch with them to let them know you are thinking of them and holding them in prayer. Bake them cookies. Ask them how the church can help. While I don’t know how such a response will look, I do know God is calling us as people of faith to find ways to support and encourage.
Today teachers are wondering about how best to teach during this time and even worrying about their own safety. And yet, teachers are usually not in the rooms where decisions are being made about the work they will be asked to do. As well, teachers are concerned about the well-being of their students, especially the most vulnerable children among us for whom school is the safe place. Again, these decisions are complex. Being raised by parents who both worked in the public school system has helped me appreciate the heart teachers bring to their work. The teachers I know teach because they experience teaching as a calling and vocation.
I am not in a position to make a school district’s decision, but I am called to do what I can to support teachers and the children in our churches and communities. And I am asking you to help me and join me in this call.
As your District Superintendent, my prayers remain with you as we continue to live during the time of a pandemic. I also give thanks for you as you carry out ministries and share the love of God in new and creative ways. We continue to live with a host of unknowns about the future, but one thing I do know is that the grief and stress of this season is heavy.
Recently I shared a video message with clergy and laity of The Capital District where I remind us of the words of Jesus: Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Put on my yoke, and learn from me. I’m gentle and humble. And you will find rest for yourselves. My yoke is easy to bear, and my burden is light.”
(If you have not had an opportunity to hear this message you can find it here,