God calls us to be in ministry with children, and every United Methodist church in Minnesota is urged to develop a long-term partnership with a school in its community after assessing the needs that exist. There are children in all Minnesota communities who lack food, school supplies, winter clothes, books, and/or positive role models.
In mid-2015, the conference’s Mission Promotion Team provided grants to 20 churches across the state to help them form relationships with schools in their communities. The grants together totaled about $23,000. That funding came from the 2015 Love Offering, 30 percent of which was earmarked for these grants.
A second round of grants were given out in spring 2016. Twenty-two churches received a grant. A total of $10,000 was distributed, $5,000 of which came from the 2015 Love Offering (30 percent of which was earmarked for the grants) and $5,000 of which came from the Mission Promotion Team.
There are many possibilities for partnerships. A few of them include supplying backpacks, clothing, or weekend meals; tutoring or mentoring students; opening up the church to school gatherings; offering parenting, ESL, or literacy classes; and praying for teachers and students.
If you are interested in starting a school ministry, check out “50 Ways to Engage Local Schools” from the Lewis Center for Church Leadership. Or contact Director of Missional Impact, Rev. Lyndy Zabel.
Oakwood UMC in New Ulm, which adopted an elementary school in 2011, has a multi-faceted school partnership that continues to expand. It now includes donating clothing for emergency needs, distributing appreciation gifts to school staff, supporting an annual baby shower for new moms, and securing a grant for healthy snacks for students who couldn’t afford them. This year, the school also plans to partner with other churches and the school district to pay for school assemblies and a teacher training on anti-bullying.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church