School Ministry offers free ‘Schools Week’ resources

Materials designed to help LCMS schools celebrate “National Lutheran Schools Week” Jan. 22-28, 2017, are available as free downloads from lcms.org/lutheranschoolsweek.

schools-week-inThe theme for the observance is “Upon This Rock,” based on Isaiah 26:4: “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.”

“The theme goes well beyond the week’s celebration,” the Rev. Robert Riggert, author of the resources, including the 24-page manual, writes in its introduction. “Every day in Lutheran schools, lives are built on the cornerstone that is Jesus. The truth of the celebration text reminds us that the Rock upon which Lutheran schools are built is an everlasting Rock. We are teaching for eternity.”

More than 190,000 students attend 1,173 early childhood centers, 804 elementary schools and 91 high schools in the Synod, and the annual “National Lutheran Schools Week” observance gives them, their teachers, families and congregations an opportunity “to celebrate one of God’s greatest gifts to His church — Lutheran schools,” notes Terry Schmidt, director of LCMS School Ministry.

“From its beginning, the LCMS, founded in 1847 with 12 congregations and 14 schools, has built schools,” Schmidt said, and today’s LCMS schools continue to “share the Good News of God’s Word every day with the children they serve. … Lives are being transformed.”

The resource manual contains an order of worship for a chapel service, notes for a chapel talk, and daily student and faculty devotions. It also includes the hymn “Christ Is Our Rock” by Dr. Jeffrey E. Burkart, which was written specifically for the 2017 celebration.

In addition to the manual, there also are downloadable posters, a bulletin insert, a proclamation from LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison and a worship service slide presentation.

Schools Week agendas include special worship services and assemblies, school-spirit activities and an increasing number of “service learning” opportunities for students — such as stocking shelves at a food pantry or tutoring students at a public school.

Cassie Moore, director of Christian education and an art teacher at Our Savior Lutheran Church and School in St. Petersburg, Fla., believes service-learning projects are ideal Schools Week activities — “a perfect opportunity to reach out and engage the community around us in a meaningful way” and “make our cities even more aware of our presence and our passion for building caring citizens.”

Graham Barber, director of Youth Ministries at Our Savior Lutheran Church and School in St. Petersburg, Fla., plays basketball with a resident at Sabal Palms, a local pediatric nursing home. (Cassie Moore/Our Savior Lutheran Church and School)

Graham Barber, director of Youth Ministries at Our Savior Lutheran Church and School in St. Petersburg, Fla., plays basketball with a resident at Sabal Palms, a local pediatric nursing home. (Cassie Moore/Our Savior Lutheran Church and School)

Our Savior’s “partnerships with local organizations,” Moore said, “have been incredible opportunities to witness Christ to staff and students alike, and have created long-lasting relationships.”

Last December, for example, Our Savior students reached out to Sabal Palms, a pediatric nursing home with some 50 severely disabled children and teen residents, most of whom cannot speak and are confined to beds or wheelchairs.

It started with sending Christmas gifts to the residents, then Our Savior’s upper-grade classes threw a Christmas party for them, and now the church and school “have formed an incredible partnership with [the home’s residents] — our middle school and high-school youth have maintained strong friendships with the kids there, going to visit on a regular basis,” Moore says.

The congregation and school have hosted several events at Sabal Palms — including a vacation Bible school, at the home’s request — and regularly pray for the residents.

“Kids at the center light up when we come in, as they know us all by name now and give us big hugs when we’re there,” according to Moore.

Best of all, the outreach has evolved into a ministry that’s a win-win for everyone involved — both at the nursing home as well as at Our Savior’s church and school.

“As a graduate of Lutheran grade school, high school and college, I firmly believe community service is one of the most essential experiences we can provide for students,” Moore added. “Serving others is a tangible way for us to share our joy as Christians and to be a beacon of God’s love to others.”

For more information about free 2017 National Lutheran Schools Week resources or to download them, visit lcms.org/lutheranschoolsweek.

Posted November 21, 2016

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