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“I tell my Christian friends that they can go into the schools. While they can’t go in there talking about Jesus, they can go in there and act like him.”

This was a quote from Molly Spearman, Superintendent of SC Public Schools, full article below or at Greenville Online

 Scott Keeler, dskeeler@greenvillenews.com5:26 p.m. EST March 11, 2016

SIMPSONVILLE – State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman visited Simpsonville Friday to deliver the keynote address of the Educators Appreciation Luncheon. At the conclusion of her speech at First Baptist Church of Simpsonville, Spearman could not resist the urge to play the piano that was directly in front of where she was speaking on stage.  “I play at my little country church every Sunday and I’ve played there since I was 12 years old,” Spearman said before delighting the crowd of educators and church officials with a pair of songs.

Spearman’s performance came after she spoke about a movement in the state that’s seen churches partnering with schools, especially with schools in need.  “We as educators have been pretty nervous about working with church folks. We’re so afraid that we’re going to do something wrong and break the law,” Spearman said. “I truly believe we have to stop that. We can work together as partners, because what we want to do and have to do in this state to make every child ready, we can’t do this by ourselves.  “We have got to have help and what better partners than our friends in the faith community.”

After speaking at First Baptist Church of Simpsonville Friday, State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman played two songs on the church piano. (Photo: SCOTT KEELER / Staff)

Prior to Spearman’s talk, FBC Simpsonville Lead Pastor Wayne Bray welcomed the crowd and spoke about how churches can help schools.

“We love educators. … We love anybody who has given their life to care for children,” Bray said. “Far too often these days, educators hear the complaints and not the commendations.”

Bray jokingly added that he loves teachers so much that he married one. Prior to the couple’s move to Simpsonville six months ago, Bray’s wife taught elementary school for nine years.

At Bray’s former church in Douglasville, Georgia, he was approached by the superintendent of schools there to see if the church could help the schools in any way. Bray’s church began providing breakfast and gift cards for teachers at the start of the year, as well as backpacks for students. During the school year, the church provided mentors to students in need.

“In the 10 years that I was at Beulah (Baptist Church) we partnered with three schools and we never had one complaint of anyone feeling like anyone crossed a line,” Bray said.  Now that he’s in South Carolina, Bray hopes to continue to provide for local schools and he hopes others will do the same throughout the state.  “We want to begin a new conversation that can bring the needs of educators and the ministries of the local church together for the sake of the children, the teachers and the administrators,” Bray said. “I don’t think we have a shortage of people who want to help and there’s no doubt that we have plenty of need.”  Spearman called getting the chance to speak at a church sanctuary a treat for her. She recalled being raised in a small church in Saluda and, at age seven, being baptized in a creek.  “I’m so thrilled with this movement that’s beginning to happen here in South Carolina,” Spearman said. “Church leaders from the Southern Baptist Convention, the Lutherans, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics and bishops from the AME Church have all come to meet with me about how they can help.”

On a past visit to Greenville County, Spearman said she saw first-hand the importance of church support in schools. She and Greenville County Superintendent Burke Royster visited a school where nearly every child was on free or reduced lunch. With only a couple of days left in the school year, the school was holding a book fair. Spearman noticed the smiles on the children’s faces as they went in to select five books.  “I talked to a couple of them and they said, ‘You mean we get to keep them? These are mine?’ They had never had books at home,” Spearman said. “Burke told me that they actually have churches that adopt schools.”

While excited about the continued growth of school-church partnerships throughout the state, Spearman’s also cognizant of the parameters in such a relationship.  “I tell my Christian friends that they can go into the schools,” Spearman said. “While they can’t go in there talking about Jesus, they can go in there and act like him.”

 

 

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