Dear Friends in Christ,
There are sixteen congregations in our church body that are presently enjoying a special blessing from the Lord. These congregations are operating elementary Christian day schools. Some of these schools have been in existence since the very beginning of the CLC, such as Immanuel Lutheran School in Mankato, Minnesota. In fact, Immanuel congregation has also been operating its own Christian high school ever since Immanuel Lutheran College moved from Mankato to Eau Claire in 1963.
The 2010-2011 CLC Directory lists the following Christian Day Schools.
Of 77 CLC member congregations, 16 have schools (‘09-’10 enrollment in brackets):
Holy Cross Lutheran School (13),
St. Stephen Lutheran School (36),
San Francisco Bay Area West
Immanuel Lutheran School (15),
Winter Haven, Fla.
Gethsemane Lutheran School (16), Saginaw, Mich.
Immanuel Lutheran School (65), Mankato, Minn.
Grace Lutheran School (12), Fridley, Minn.
Berea Lutheran School (28),
Inver Grove Heights, Minn.
St. John’s Lutheran School (35), Okabena, Minn.
Holy Trinity Lutheran School (17),
West Columbia, S.C.
Trinity Lutheran School (6),
Redemption Lutheran School (16),
Messiah Lutheran School (121), Eau Claire, Wis.
Luther Memorial School (29), Fond du Lac, Wis.
Messiah Lutheran School (31), Hales Corners, Wis.
Faith Lutheran School (41), Markesan, Wis.
Peace Thru Christ Lutheran School (5),
It is hard for us even to imagine what it must have been like at Immanuel’s grade school back in the 1800s when the school was begun. The records indicate that one teacher named C. D. Brockmeyer was the teacher all by himself in a one-room school with 168 students. That must have been an almost impossible situation. The enrollment at Immanuel’s grade school today is less than 100, but there are many more teachers than just one.
Some of our schools are very small. Just last week I was talking with the pastor of Peace thru Christ congregation in Middleton, Wisconsin. There are five students in the school in Middleton, and the teacher is someone who is a recent graduate of ILC: Jennifer Ohlmann, and he said she was doing very well. For a number of years Trinity Lutheran School of Watertown, South Dakota, had only one student, but the congregation kept the school open and in time the school enrollment reached twenty.
There are other congregations in the CLC that had schools for a time, even schools with many students, such as Faith Lutheran School in Coloma, Michigan. But as time went on, there were fewer students and greater expenses, and finally the congregation had to make the sad decision to close the school in the hope of reopening it at some time in
In other congregations the school has grown. For example, Messiah School in Eau Claire started with 24 students in 1963, and now there are over 100 students, and most of the graduates are able to continue their education right here at ILC. In fact, many families have moved to Eau Claire from other CLC congregations in order to make use of the schools here.
Obviously it takes quite a bit of money and time and energy for a congregation to establish and maintain a Christian school. There are many in the world that would tell us that it is foolish for us to expend so much time and energy and money to operate these little schools when public education is available without any extra expense. Do we have a good enough reason to maintain Christian schools in our congregations?
This is what one of our pastors (Paul Fleischer) wrote about Christian education: “Let there be no question about the fact that children and their Christian training are very dear to the Lord, and therefore children and their Christian training must also be dear to us who would serve Him aright. There are only two basic world-views. One is a God-centered view of life. The other is a creature-centered view. The former is what our Savior-God expects His people to inculcate to the up-and-coming generation. If we want true education, we must base that education on the truths of the Holy Scriptures, which alone can answer aright the big questions in this life of ‘Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going?’” (1982 CLC Convention essay: “An On-going, Crying Need, Educating Our Children for the Real World”)
Our Christian schools are schools where the Bible is the main textbook. Of course, we must teach our children how to read and spell and think and do arithmetic. These things are necessary for them to survive in this world. But it is clear from the Bible that what God wants us to get across to our children is the reality of God in the world, God as Creator, God as Redeemer, God as Sanctifier. Our God wants us to teach His law and gospel to our children so that they know that they are sinners redeemed from sin through God’s mercy as demonstrated in the suffering, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. If our children do not learn to know who God is and what He has done for them in Christ, they are missing out on what is most important and necessary.
Our Lord has not told us that we must establish a Christian day school in every Christian congregation. But He has commanded parents in these well-known words from the apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: “You, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” Fathers and mothers have this responsibility, and some of them are able to carry out this responsibility through instruction in their own homes. Christian day schools are not intended to replace parents in carrying out their responsibilities. Christian day schools are intended to assist the parents in doing their job. Many of you in our audience today have been blessed by attending Christian schools, where you have learned what the Bible says, where you have memorized the chief parts of Christian doctrine, where you have learned to sing God’s praises. You have been blessed with Christian teachers who have helped your parents bring you what Jesus called “the one thing needful.” May our Lord continue to bless our Christian schools.
Let us sing TLH #628:1,4.