In Duval County, Superintendent Nikolai Vitti is intent on strengthening his schools’ ties to the faith community and is encouraging all 160 of the schools in his district to partner with a faith-based organization.
San Jose Baptist Church in Jacksonville partners with nearby San Jose Elementary. Sometimes that means church members are at the school, and other times students and teachers are able to visit the church.
For the last three years, Lead Pastor Mike Reed said that the church has held its vacation Bible school on the elementary school’s campus.
And while law prohibits them from promoting the event on school campus, Reed said it was a good experience for his church.
Reed said the church ran a bus and picked up kids from a local apartment complex, and while participation was not high, church members made good connections with the children.
“If we show up, then God takes it from there and we don’t know what seeds are sown,” he said. “It’s important that we are on their campus, but they need to understand that they are welcome on ours.”
To that end, for the last two years, the church has invited the school to hold its fifth-grade year-end celebration on its campus, giving the kids a special opportunity for a field trip and a nice meal.
Reed said he is thankful for any opportunity to love the students with no expectation of anything in return.
“It’s important to give ourselves away,” he said.