- Associated Press - Saturday, September 10, 2016

NEWNAN, Ga. (AP) - Classes are back in session for the 2016-2017 school term and several local schools have benefited from outreach by area churches.

Western Elementary School is Coweta’s oldest continuously operated school, and it is just a short country walk from Providence Baptist Church. There is a long-standing, strong connection between the two.

The Providence church recently provided lunch for the Western faculty and staff - a tradition that has been underway for several years. Cheryl Sheppard, a retired Western faculty member and a member at Providence, coordinated the meal.

The church purchased the meat, and members prepared side dishes.

Western also sponsors the Soaring Eagles Club. Meetings are held every Tuesday while school is in session.

At Unity Elementary School in Luthersville, there also is a strong tie with churches in the community. As teachers returned to school in August, they were greeted by volunteers from two United Methodist congregations in the area.

Allen-Lee Memorial in Lone Oak has had an ongoing partnership with Unity, and Allen-Lee members provided a breakfast for teachers as they got their rooms ready for students and prepared for open house later that day.

Members of Clark Chapel in Luthersville brought gift baskets - with color-coded tissue designating whether they were for teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators or other staff. Volunteers from both churches enjoyed visiting with each other, with the faculty and staff and with Meriwether County Commissioner Shirley Hines who dropped by.

Allen-Lee has given a ream of copy paper for each teacher at Unity for several years, and the church maintains a prayer box that is checked weekly. Members also take part in programs during the years including Real People Read and career day.

Suze Neal, Unity’s assistant principal, expressed thanks for the outreach at the beginning of the new term.

“It starts us out with a great morning and a great year,” she said.

Several churches helped to make sure students had what they needed as the school year began. Members of Rehoboth Baptist Church in Luthersville gave away school supplies in July.

New Mt. Bethel Baptist in Luthersville held their School Supply Walk-A-Thon last month.

“Every year, New Mt. Bethel provides families with basic school supplies to ensure that children start the school year with the tools they need to succeed,” said Tywone Ferrell, pastor of the church.

Participants walked to show support for students, donated school supplies and enjoyed a breakfast and a drawing for door prizes.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church has a tradition of providing school supplies for Arnco-Sargent Elementary School. A collection box was placed in the narthex in the weeks leading to the start of school.

Packs of crayons, blunt-point scissors, pencils, notebook paper, large bottles of hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, Kleenex, and Ziploc bags were among the items collected.

There also were times of worship and fellowship at local churches as the school year started. First United Methodist Church in downtown Newnan held a blessing of the backpacks, along with its Promotion Sunday. On Promotion Sunday, children move to the next “grade” in Sunday school.

Two- and three-year-olds received Bibles, and the newest confirmation class was recognized. Songs, a devotion and a time of prayer for students and teachers were also part of the First Methodist service.

Central Baptist Church held a Children’s Back to School Bash at the Lynch Park Pool.

St. Paul’s held the first MacKenzie Teal Back to School Bash - which is slated to become an annual event. The event was for youth in grades 6-12. Games - including some that involved getting wet - were enjoyed, and there were plenty of hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill.

Cornerstone United Methodist Church held its Back to School Bash. There were inflatables for all ages, games, food, treats and face painting.


Information from: The Times-Herald, https://www.times-herald.com

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