This Week in Fellowship Southwest: What You’re Working On

1f3efd88-a0f7-4c0c-8b68-b6661d81d666One of our largest ministry and advocacy partners is Pastors for Texas Children, and its state affiliates in Oklahoma and soon in Arizona. PTC was able to grow quickly because many churches are already doing the foundational work of serving their local neighborhood schools in beautiful ways.

One of the congregations doing this important work is Calvary Baptist Church in Waco, Texas. Pastor Mary Alice Birdwhistell writes about their relationship with their nearby school:

For the past several years, Calvary Baptist Church in Waco has been developing a growing partnership with West Avenue Elementary School, a local school right around the corner from our church, where over 95% of students receive free or reduced lunch. We began our partnership with a handful of mentors reading with children during the lunch hour, and this past year, we have grown to having over twenty mentors reading with over sixty children each week.
Since the school doesn’t have a PTA, they often call on Calvary to help with teacher appreciation and other special events. As Principal A told me recently, “Most of the people at Calvary don’t look like the majority of people in my school, but all I have to do is call, and you always show up – no strings attached.”
But our relationship has continued to grow beyond a 30-minute reading time each week.  At the beginning of the school year, we collected 60 backpacks filled with school supplies for children at the school, and school staff and Waco ISD administrators joined us in worship for a Blessing of the Packpacks. The principal of West Ave., Joe Alexander, often joins us for worship and lets us know how we can be praying for and with him and his school.
On the first day of school or before STAAR testing, we like to surprise the students, teachers, and staff with a high-five wall to share encouragement and excitement to begin their day, and we chalk the sidewalks with hopeful messages to stay with them throughout the week.
We are grateful for the students, teachers, and staff at West Avenue – they are part of our Calvary family. They have welcomed us into their school with kindness and hospitality. What a great joy it is to partner with them in serving our community.