Loving Houston Blog

Stories, Tips, & Inspiration

A Real Life Example of The Gospel Next Door

Churches all across Greater Houston are joining Jesus in His work around the world AND right here in our city. We hope you’ll be encouraged and inspired by Christ Evangelical Presbyterian Church’s journey!

CEPC’S Missional Foundation

A commitment to Missions has always been an integral part of Christ Evangelical Presbyterian Church (CEPC). Everything they do is rooted in a strong Biblical foundation, and their commitment to missions is no exception. Members give generously of their tithes, time, and talent out of gratitude for the richness of God’s grace and mercy.

The Tumaini Children’s Village in Kenya that CEPC founded is a great example of their commitment to missions. Built 8 years ago, the orphanage and school are changing the trajectory of children’s lives. Through the direct involvement of house parents, staff, teachers, and church sponsors, these children are experiencing the love of Christ in a very personal way. Lives are being transformed and the next generation of Christian leaders is being raised up because of CEPC’s commitment to Tumaini.

This past year, CEPC began praying and seeking ways to deepen their local outreach ministry efforts. The church was having such a transformational impact in Kenya, and they wanted to have that same kind of impact in their own community right here in Houston. Supply drives, service days, and volunteering were already very important to the church, but they wanted to pursue a more long-term local partnership. The success of last summer’s “Back to School Backpack Blessing Drive” confirmed to church leaders that the congregation had a real passion for making a difference in the lives of local children. This led Pastor Richard Harris to consider connecting with a local school directly. “But how do we do this?” he wondered.

That’s when he came across Loving Houston (on Twitter of all places)!

Beginning a New Partnership

Pastor Harris reached out to Loving Houston immediately, and CEPC dove headfirst into our Loving Houston school partnership process. A team of CEPC elders and deacons came to a Loving Houston Equipping Session where their eyes were opened to the struggles of many of our Houston-area kids and schools. (The Biblical basis we provided during the session was in line with CEPC’s Biblical foundation for service, and they felt affirmed they were on the right path!)
CEPC elders and deacons at our Nov 2015 Equipping Session

Over the next several weeks, Outreach Deacon Lori Petitclerc and the CEPC team walked through Loving Houston’s step-by-step Action Plan that they had begun together during the Equipping Session. Then, after going through the appropriate approvals at the church, CEPC officially formalized their commitment to partnering with a school in January. Praise God for the unity of mission of the CEPC leaders!

CEPC chose a school using our Loving Houston Searchable Map and, after much prayer, Pastor Harris and his team approached Cedar Brook Elementary Principal Jeff Post. The team used tips and question recommendations learned at the Equipping Session and asked HIM how they could help with HIS school’s needs and goals. It was a memorable meeting!

Principal Post then introduced the CEPC team to the school’s PTA president, and another special relationship was formed. Together, they made plans to serve the school during Teacher Appreciation Week in May. CEPC’s “Just Older Youth” (JOY) group volunteers made and handed out 100 bags of special treats to teachers and staff each day that week and then served alongside the PTA moms during the Teacher Appreciation Luncheon.

As Lori thinks back to that week in May, she remembers that the goal of the CEPC volunteers had been to encourage the teachers and staff, but it turns out that they themselves walked away so inspired by the hard work, dedication, and talents of the staff at Cedar Brook. “WE were affirmed! What a gift God has given us to partner with this wonderful school!”

Looking Ahead

Principal Post has asked CEPC to continue to help support the Cedar Brook teachers this coming school year. CEPC will also be training mentors through the Spring Branch ISD mentoring program and sponsoring students for the school’s October Pumpkin Fun Run. At the end of the past school year, CEPC even received approval from the Principal and the school district to send their VBS flyers home with every Cedar Brook kindergartener. God is definitely at work in this partnership!

“We love that a church-school partnership provides us with the opportunity to impact children, teachers, parents, and an entire community… right in our backyard! And yes, it does take intentional actions… but when you step out in faith, amazing things happen!”  – Lori Petitclerc, CEPC

All across Greater Houston, churches like CEPC are coming alongside administrators, educators, and families to transform our communities together – one school and one child at a time. They’re also changing our neighbors’ perceptions of God and the Church through their faithful service! Imagine if EVERY school in EVERY neighborhood in Greater Houston had a church partner like CEPC, a body of believers committed to building authentic relationships, showing the love of Jesus, and offering hope for a brighter future in a very tangible way. Pray with us that more churches will commit to loving Houston by serving local schools.

Want to join God in the work He’s doing in your community? We’d love to help!

 

…By this everyone will know that you are my disciples,
if you love one another. — John 13:35


Have a church-school partnership story you’d like to share? Let us know!

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