My first teacher’s license in the Board of Education for the City of New York, was CRMD, Children With Retarded Mental Development, what ever that mean. My first teaching assignment was working in a Junior High School in a class called EH, Emotionally Handicapped. I was not afraid, I grew up in Spanish Harlem, and these were Spanish Students, and in Harlem, we did not do crazy. You could not survive the streets if you were crazy. The term was meaningless for me, especially scince I noticed that these same children functioned normally when walking through the communities and engaging in day to day activities outside of the classroom. With credentials from Columbia University and the help of the Riverside Church in New York City, students became decertified out of Special Education and went on to become outstanding citizens in the community.

               This is a case study of leadership. How the leadership of a Church and a teacher changed the lives of a select group of public school students by bring them into a Church and adding the extra variable of spirituality to the curriculum. Dr. James Forbes was the senior minister and leader of the Riverside Church. He demostrated the strength to have a vision in a time when church leadership was being attacked by all forces, it was a time of leadership challenges for churches in transition. Adult Christians had given up talking about God, and were concentrating on who is coming through the church doors and sitting next to them; some even questioned the use of “their” money for programs for these “new comers.” Dr. Forbes was strong and capable, he managed to keep the Flag Ship of American Protestanism ahead of the coming storm. Pastors from other churches, in an effort to get out of the storm, gave in to congregations fighting transitions, downsized outreach programs, eliminated programs for “those” children.

                   This is not going to be easy. It will take leadership to get our children to enter the house

 

where God is trusted and working. The church can have the answers to some of life’s problems. Young families worry about the education that their children are receiving.

Some do not trust the school system. Churches can offer a place where parents can send their children, and they can trust that they will receive education, which could have a significant affect on their lives. Teachers are often stressed out trying to reach and teach a generation of young people without trust. Churches can offer teachers a new way to teach.

Churches can help teachers go through a spiritual transformation, which would enable

 

them to become more affective[1]. Churches can offer safe places for children to play, pray and learn, and as a results, send them to school with confidence in their ability, and trust in a God who is always with them. These things can happen if churches consider themselves Religious education centers and develop effective after school programs that will attract all parts of the society. Religious education should be part of any profession working with people.

 

Churches, more than houses of worship

 

Churches should be places where business meetings are held. It should a center of social justice, a place where business and professional people meet to discuss how to better serve the community. Members of the health care profession, should have a spiritual center in any religious building, where they can go and connect with a higher power.

             Children should learn early, that a church or house of worship can and should be the first place to turn in times of stress or disappointment.   Churches can work with schools, and improve academic performance, through transformations of the learner.[2] Children can lead other children to God. They can lead others to positive experiences. The church should look for children who other children follow, and make these children workers for God. Influence the leader, and others will follow. Churches must take the lead to attract individuals who can and will help others.

A child filled with the understanding and purpose of God, can lead a world out of its problems, and back into the arms of a waiting God.

 

[1] ibid

[2] Schools are failing children, especially minority children, and children of the poor. If the teacher cannot or will not teach this group of children, then these children must find a way to transform themselves into the students who can and will learn regardless of the obstacles placed in their way. This transformation can come through religious work.

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