by Susan Gingerich, Christopher Dock Mennonite High School
Franconia and Eastern District conference leadership recently joined leaders from 10 congregations to discuss Mennonite education. This annual forum focuses on the Mennonite education support plan (MEP) that congregations provide for students of Quakertown Christian School, Penn View Christian School, Christopher Dock Mennonite High School, and Philadelphia Mennonite High School.
Attendees found this forum helpful as they shared successes, challenges, and opportunities related to mutual aid, accountability, mission, accessibility, and integrity for congregational support plans for students attending the three local Mennonite schools.
Several churches have committees that plan for and oversee the guidelines and financial status of the fund. The Mennonite Education Advocacy Team (MEAT) of Souderton congregation is one such special committee that was formed to advocate for Mennonite education at all levels and for the mission of MEP at Souderton. They have been successful in enhancing respect for informed and intentional choices in both Christian education and public school education. While MEAT looks after the financial piece for the church and families, they also remind the congregation of mutual aid, accountability, and accessibility in order to give the education plan integrity.
Table group discussions affirmed the Mennonite Education Plan as a missional opportunity for congregations to tend the well-being and spiritual development of young children and youth. Church representatives reported that not all congregants see MEP as missional, and a common challenge is meeting the MEP budget in this economic environment.
MEP is an opportunity for churches to invest in young people to raise faithful and radical followers of Christ. Attendees expressed a desire to validate families who choose to support public schools also.
In addition to a time of networking, the principal of each school shared stories of students whose lives are being impacted by MEP support. The schools plan to continue this annual forum to provide encouragement and to assist with programmatic challenges. Churches not involved with MEP that are interested in learning about a support plan may contact any of the participating schools’ principals.