When Reg is introduced by city or school district leaders he’s usually called the; “Director of the Lakewood Faith Coalition.” What does the Faith Coalition mean in the city of Lakewood or in Jefferson County?
As a City Connector facilitating opportunities to mobilize churches and church members for effective service in the community the Faith Coalition is a primary connection point for achieving this mobilization.
The Lakewood Faith Coalition is a movement, an aim and an organization that provides an effective process of connection. As a movement the coalition is something of a miracle! Reg leads a Steering Committee comprised of faith leaders, school leaders and members of the city of Lakewood’s staff. These committee members are leaders from various faith heritages and government working together as one!
The steering committee: Gregg Moss serves on staff at Mile Hi church of Mind and Science. Drew Ross is senior pastor at Bethlehem Lutheran. Larry Linsenmaier is senior pastor of Grace Covenant church. Mike Fletcher is deacon at Christ on the Mountain Catholic church. Mary Ruther serves as the Strategic Initiatives Director for the city of Lakewood. Brett Berninger serves as director of Lakewood’s family services. Sean Kovar is director of the Title 1 family engagement liaisons at the Jeffco School District. Perry Richards is the president of the LDS church in Lakewood.
The fact that this diverse group exists at all is reason enough to be impressed! The vision of the coalition is that when we work together opportunities multiply to do and accomplish more than any one entity can accomplish by themselves! Impossible becomes possible when we work together! The steering committee models the “silo” and division busting philosophy that we hope grows throughout the entire faith community in Lakewood.
As an entity that is moving in the city of Lakewood, Colorado the Faith Coalition is aimed at a certain point of service: Title 1 elementary schools. Title 1 is a federal designation that both identifies schools with great need who receive special federal funds to support programs and services to help the students and families achieve success.
For the Faith Coalition the philosophy behind this aim is critical. It is our belief that when you transform the lives of elementary school students you change the future culture of a community. These Title 1 schools are located in the most under-served neighborhoods in the city. If the efforts of the Faith Coalition can lead to positive change in the lives of hundreds of students then it is possible to transform whole areas of our city that are now struggling in many ways. This isn’t a Band-Aid social program but instead a long term commitment to change the future by strategically investing in a key population.
There are currently 6 Title 1 elementary schools in Lakewood and there will be 8 in 2017-18. Our main goal in each school for 2017-8 will be to develop a Support Team comprised of local church leaders, neighborhood association leaders and other volunteers who would serve as a group to meet regularly with school leaders to discuss the needs of that school. These Support Teams now exist in 4 of the current 6 schools and are working together to offer after school tutoring, program support for school events, backpack food programs and teacher appreciation efforts.
Long term these Support Teams will seek effective ways to serve that school. The first priority of each Support Team is to develop relationships and build trust. These relationships and trust will lead us to effective plans and programs in the future! Look for news and updates on the Lakewood Faith Coalition Support Teams in blog posts in the future.
*The picture is principal Esther Valdez of recently remodeled and reopened Rose Stein Elementary, our 7th Title 1 school in Lakewood. She is standing in the empty library. The Faith Coalition is partnering with businesses and other groups to get books before August 2017.