How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver. Proverbs 16:16
Students working on computers on science. A teacher helping a student while working on a math problem. In English, everyone opens their books and discussion begins. Talks of college applications
bring out feelings of anxiety and hope. This may sound like any school, but this one is a little special. Christus Academy, a ministry of Christus Lutheran in Camden, is about “creating a place for grace”, as their mission statement declares.
This ministry came about through a conversation: Lynne Rogers, a former school principal, and Pastor Carol Book, who had been a math teacher, talked about what it would take to start a high school in the education wing of the church building. Witnessing a growing need for good education and using their experience and energy, Christus Academy was begun in 2008. Many of their students had struggled in public school, and have thrived with smaller class sizes and more one-on-one instruction. Organized as a private high school with the status of a non-profit 501C3, courses are primarily taught by volunteers, and include the traditional options like math, science, history and English, but also include faith formation, psychology, street law, and public speaking. There is opportunity for field trips and special seminars on life skills. Prayer begins and ends the school days. As principal Elizabeth Mauro puts it, “it’s a reminder to all of us that our lives are not accidents and everything is a gift from God, whether for the students, volunteers, and even the chairs and books.”
Much of the news one can hear from Camden looks and sounds very dark. It can be easy to be overcome by the struggle and trouble, and miss the places where God is working. For example, a recent study proclaimed that only three students in Camden scored as college-ready on their SATs. And while this news may be upsetting, there is great opportunity for places like Christus Academy.
Many of their graduates have gone on to post-secondary education, and even the current students are doing great things. Maryanne Vega, a senior, was recently awarded the “Good Citizen” award from the Union League of Philadelphia for demonstrating “cooperative effort, self-control, perseverance, and good sportsmanship”. For Ms. Vega, Christus has been a place which may be small, but here she “can learn more, and get help along the way.”
Christus Academy is an amazing example of what happens when the needs of our community are met by our God-given gifts and the assets we have all around us. Through a conversation and many more after it, God’s work in building up this community is happening. What are the needs in your community? What gifts and assets do you have?
If you are interested in supporting Christus Academy through volunteering or donating, please contact them at 856-966-8729 or http://www.christusacademy.org.