A new, old friend

Published 7:47 pm Friday, January 25, 2013

Parochial schools, of course, are not for everybody. Even amongst those who do not choose to send their children to public school, parochial schools are not necessarily the first choice. The popularity of private schools such as Nansemond-Suffolk and Isle of Wight academies attests to the desire of many parents to have a secular option to public schools. And even some people looking for faith-based educational alternatives prefer not to send their children to their communities’ parochial schools, as witnessed by the growth of homeschooling as yet another alternative in the education panoply.

But parochial schools have had a place in Suffolk for many years. For the most recent 25 of those years, First Baptist Church in Suffolk has provided that service, first by setting up a continuing school board that would govern the operation of the school that bears the church’s name and then by making sure that school had the space it needed for classrooms, administration, lunches and recreation. As the school grew and added high school grades, Westminster Reformed Presbyterian Church began offering some of its own facilities.

Even so, the school was always considered to be affiliated with Suffolk’s First Baptist Church. But at the beginning of the year, things changed in a big way for First Baptist Christian School. The school will now be affiliated with and governed by a group of four Suffolk churches, and it has taken a new name, Suffolk Christian Academy, though athletic teams (and probably even some parents and students) will continue to refer to the old name for a while.

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The four churches involved in the new effort — First Baptist, Westminster, Southside Baptist and Open Door — represent a broad swath of historic Suffolk, and their decision to work together to create a stronger school should prove a good one for the school and for the community of faith in the core part of the city.

The new school is Bible-based, but non-denominational, reflecting the fact that the participating churches’ shared values are far more important than the things that separate them.

Suffolk Christian Academy and its leaders have a great opportunity to set the tone not just for Christian education in Suffolk but also for Christian cooperation and brotherhood. We look forward to great things from this new, old friend in education.