On Wednesday, December 7, approximately 70 people gathered to celebrate Loving Houston’s achievements in 2016 and to look forward to the year ahead. Highlights for the year included 16 workshops (compared to 5 in 2015) that were attended by close to 450 people representing 181 churches. As a result of these workshops in 2015 and 2016, 25 new church-school partnerships have already started and an additional 14 are at some stage of development. That is good news indeed, but still leaves much work to be done to achieve our long-term goal of every school in Greater Houston with a church partner.
Attendees at the celebration luncheon listened to Kevin Palau describe the remarkable progress that has been achieved as a result of church-school partnerships in Portland, Oregon, and were encouraged to hear of similar ministries working in many cities across the USA. A panel made up of Lawrence Allen (Texas State Board of Education and Houston ISD), Pastor Bryant Lee (Higher Expectations Church), Outreach Deacon Lori Petitclerc (Christ Evangelical Presbyterian Church) and Principal Jeff Post (Cedar Brook Elementary) shared the great benefits that are realized when a church partners with a school and approaches it in the right manner – with no agenda and simply asking “How can we help?”
During 2016 we have been most encouraged by the strong welcome we have received from Independent School Districts (ISDs) and schools across the Greater Houston area. The need is great in most of our schools and the invitation to The Church to help is being communicated loud and clear. Now the challenge is for The Church to respond with loving service, and Loving Houston is playing an important role in helping churches develop successful, long-term relationships with schools in need. As a result, the lives of many at-risk children are being transformed.
As we look to 2017, we have decided to narrow our focus to just 6 (of the 58) ISDs in Greater Houston, namely: Fort Bend, Houston, Humble, Klein, Lamar Consolidated and Spring Branch. While still representing a large percentage of all the schools in Greater Houston, this focus will enable us to make good progress in helping every school in these six ISDs obtain a church partner. We look forward immensely to helping churches, particularly in these 6 ISDs, to engage in deep, long-term relationships with local schools, and we look forward to reporting another banner year of progress, and celebrating the lives that are being transformed!
I am pleased to announce two important staffing changes, effective January 1, 2017: Marilyn Lee will be our new Executive Director, and Mike Kraxberger will take over as Associate Director. We congratulate them both on their sterling work for Loving Houston and wish them the very best for a successful and satisfying 2017!
With Marilyn’s appointment as Executive Director, I will be stepping back from Executive Chairman to a more traditional role of Chairman. In that position, I look forward to working closely with Loving Houston’s Board members and staff, especially in the area of fund-raising.
Thank you for your support and encouragement as we advance community transformation in Greater Houston by helping churches serve local schools.
December 12, 2016