by Melanie Ave
National Lutheran Schools Week, with the theme “Baptized for This Moment,” was well under way in January when a student at Leesburg Open Arms Christian Childhood Development Center in Leesburg, Va., asked a question about her teacher: “When will Miss Courtney become a baby?”
The student was familiar with babies being baptized, but on this day, Miss Courtney, a teacher at the school, was being baptized. More than 200 children under the age of 5 and Miss Courtney’s family and friends gathered to watch the Baptism and hear the pastor describe what it means to be washed in the waters of Holy Baptism and to be brought into the family of God.
The teacher was one of about 200 people who were baptized during this year’s National Lutheran Schools Week celebration.
Last school year, 2,480 Baptisms were recorded at LCMS schools.
“We want our schools to make sure their No. 1 purpose is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” said William Cochran, executive director of LCMS School Ministry. “Otherwise, we don’t need to exist.”
“We want our schools to make sure their No. 1 purpose is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, … Otherwise, we don’t need to exist.”
Without LCMS schools, he said, “more than 230,000 students would not be hearing the saving Gospel message on a daily basis.”
LCMS School Ministry serves as a national voice for Lutheran schools, upholding the standards of Christ-centered schools that are academically strong and respectfully operated. Nationwide, there are 2,335 LCMS schools, which include 1,376 early childhood centers, 871 elementary schools and 88 high schools.
About 17 percent of the students do not have a church home or have little to no church background. LCMS School Ministry assists, equips and uplifts educators, district staff, education executives and congregational leaders so that through them, children at LCMS schools may be equipped as disciples of Jesus Christ.
It advocates for professional excellence, provides relevant resources and services, and builds collaborative systems of service and support.
LCMS School Ministry also oversees the National Lutheran School Accreditation process, which encourages and recognizes Lutheran schools that provide quality Christian education and engage in continuous improvement. It helps Lutheran schools evaluate their academic quality and the spiritual dimension.
About 700 of the 2,335 LCMS schools are accredited. “We want our schools to be the school of choice in their neighborhood,” Cochran said.
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