By Megan K. Mertz
This summer, children all around the country brought in their nickels, dimes and dollars to help Lutheran schools in urban areas through “Big City Mission: Tools for School” — the mission project included in Concordia Publishing House’s 2015 “Camp Discovery” vacation Bible school program.
The Big City Mission project was formed to support these schools in their Gospel proclamation efforts by helping them provide tangible care to students through things like lunches, school supplies, playground equipment and tuition assistance.
As of Sept. 21, $92,288.53 had been received from 260 churches and groups from 38 states.
“I cannot thank our donors enough for their overwhelming response in supporting urban missions through Big City Mission,” said the Rev. Steven Schave, director of LCMS Urban & Inner-City Mission (UICM) — which will distribute the funds raised — and LCMS Church Planting.
“Lutheran education through our urban schools is one of the greatest ways for us to reach out to the families in our inner-city neighborhoods and to show we care,” Schave continued. “People in these communities are very interested to see how you care for their children and elderly residents, and offering a good education speaks volumes. And of course, the ultimate goal is to bring these families into the life of the church and to teach the faith to the students. An education is life-changing, and when it is centered in the Gospel, it is truly transformational.”
Schave has committed money from the UICM budget to bring the total available for Big City Mission to $100,000. Out of this, he has already announced that two small preliminary grants have been given.
Martin Luther Christian School in Pennsauken, N.J., received $1,000 for tuition assistance. The school serves 77 children in preschool through sixth grade in a “multicultural” setting, according to Principal Becky Williams.
“The $1,000 went to help offset the cost for a family with two children in our school debating whether or not they would be able to continue here this year after mom lost her job,” Williams said. “It has been a blessing that we have received grants so that we are able to assist.”
Word of Life Lutheran School in St. Louis also received a $1,000 grant for startup funding for a new playset at one of its three campuses.
Principal Alicia Klug said Word of Life began thinking about adding a playset after the school moved its kindergarten through fourth-grade classes to its main campus. Word of Life serves 134 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, and about 25 percent of those come from immigrant families.
“We didn’t have money set aside for this. But it was something we’ve had parents, teachers and pastor desire now that we have the little ones there,” Klug said. “We’d like to have something with some slides and a rock wall … something that would inspire creativity and physical fitness.
“I feel very thankful that I connected with Pastor Schave, and I really appreciated his heart for urban ministry and what our school is all about,” she continued.
Klug hopes to finish fundraising and start construction of the playset by next summer.
Schave said he is working with LCMS districts to determine how to disperse the money collected in order to have the greatest impact on urban Lutheran schools and the students they serve.
To learn more about the Big City Mission project, visit lcms.org/bigcitymission.
Megan K. Mertz (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a staff writer and managing editor of Lutherans Engage the World with LCMS Communications.
Posted Oct. 19, 2015