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Lima Churches Partner to Launch Freedom School

Lima City churches are set to open the city’s first Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom School to open this summer serving scholars currently in grades kindergarten thru fifth grade. For the past three years, several representatives from various ministerial alliances partnered together in an effort to bring the program to Lima, including Shawnee United Methodist Church, Trinity United Methodist Church, Second Baptist Church and Providence Missionary Baptist Church. The Lima City Freedom School will open on June 13, 2016 thru July 29, 2016, serving serve 50 scholars from the greater Lima City area.

Known for advancing student reading skills, CDF Freedom School curriculum approach to learning also fosters a safe space for self-esteem building, cultural awareness and community empowerment. The program will work to enrich not only the lives of Lima students, but also engage families in fun and meaningful ways. The Freedom’s School’s emphasis on education, community responsibility, social justice and health, collectively, well-aligns with the longstanding history and mission of The United Methodist Church.

The West Ohio Conference (WOC) board, together with Shawnee United Methodist Church’s Reverend Bucher and representatives from the aforementioned Lima City church partnership led program planning, training, community outreach and the hiring process to host the Freedom School in Lima City. Shawnee United Methodist Church’s Reverend Bucher’s outreach brought WOC Executive Director Reverend Megan Croy as well as the Black Ministerial Alliance into the partnership. Reverend Bucher and Croy supported outreach with Lima City Schools to confirm the Freedom school’s host site.

Though this will be the WOC’s first Freedom School, Executive Director Rev. Megan Croy has previous experience implementing various best practices to another Freedom School program. Together with the Shawnee United Methodist Church’s summer program experience, the aforementioned, Northwest Licking County churches have pooled their insights, resources and passion from past youth program experiences to support the Lima Freedom School’s success.  

“We are excited to be able to work together with various faith, school and community partners to provide a program that will benefit the children and families of our community. This is an important witness of unity in a community that is often divided by race,” Reverend Megan Croy, pastor, Alexandria United Methodist Church states. “This Freedom School is meant to be a collaborative effort with numerous partners across races -- not in reaction to a tragedy, but in order to do something together because we have a common goal to have a positive influence on the children of Lima. Our hope is to help the children fall in love with reading to curb the summer reading loss and provide a sense of community to the families involved through our parents meetings.”

College students and recent college graduates will support the program as Servant Leader Interns, providing mentoring and leadership to the scholars enrolled in the program. There is no charge for children for this 6-week program outside of a sliding scale registration fee

For student and servant leader intern applications, more information on the CDF Freedom School, volunteer opportunities or how to make a donation, please visit the school website at shawneeum.church/freedom-school.