COFFEE, DOUGHNUTS, AND PRAYERS FOR FAITFULNESS AND FELLOWSHIP
Lisa Rivers pulled into an empty parking lot at Westminster Christian Academy. The parking lot sat empty on this crisp and clear Saturday in Opelousas. Having already put in a full work week as the Upper School principal, she returned on her day off to join a small group of parents. Parents of Westminster’s freshman class needed her to open the multi-purpose room to hold a prayer breakfast. Though January is always a busy month, Rivers gladly accommodated them. These parents’ cause sits near to Rivers’ heart. They hope to build up Christian fellowship and community amongst the parents of the Class of 2026. “There’s power in community. There’s power in parents banding together,” Rivers said.
With most school days lasting six hours per day in the United States, students will spend approximately 1080 hours over the course of a 180-day school year with faculty, administrators, and other students. This does not include hours spent in extracurricular and other activities outside of school. This enormous amount of daily time often dwarfs the amount of awake time spent with a student’s parents and family. Given the students’ potential daily influence upon one another, many parents consider it important, if not critical, to have relationships with other parents beyond shared attendance at school events.
Some Christian schools have “parent teacher fellowship” organizations which promote fellowship and opportunities to develop relationships amongst parents and faculty. Other Christian schools governed by a particular church can have such fellowship inherent to the school’s culture through the covenant relationships already existing within the church. Absent these, deliberate steps become necessary for Christian parents seeking connectedness with the parents of their children’s classmates.
Kirk Alexander, a father of a freshman, explained one of his motivations for attending the prayer breakfast, “Our teenagers are experiencing a lot of changes and grappling with a variety of issues. All of this is happening in the context of community. The place they are attending school is a significant part of that community. So, I want to be in relationship with the parents of the students with whom my child is in community so we can come alongside and help one another.”
Over coffee and warm Sonya’s doughnuts, a handful of Class of 2026 parents gave thanks, shared stories, concerns, tears and prayers. The parents’ prayers for the Class of 2026 ranged from faithfulness to Jesus, to kindness with their classmates, to seeing one another as image bearers of God, for protection from dark influences and for their academic success. They also lifted prayers for the building up of Christian fellowship amongst the parents, particularly between the fathers. Parents also prayed for the encouragement of and provision for the faculty and board. The breakfast wrapped up after nearly two hours with some parents exchanging phone numbers and chatting about opportunities for future get togethers.
After twenty-nine years at Westminster, Rivers sees great benefit in efforts like that being attempted by the Class of 2026 parents, “Not only praying for their kids, but also in having relationships with one another. They can pick up the phone and say, “Hey, I’m struggling with this, pray with me” or “My kid has a problem with your kid, let’s get them together, have coffee, make them practice Matthew 18 [reconciliation], and talk and work it out. When kids know that their parents know each other, they think twice about some of the more foolish choices that they might otherwise make.”
Outside in the warming sun with squinted eyes and a smile, Rivers expressed hopefulness for the Class of 2026 parents’ efforts, “I would love to see each grade level have a group of parents committed to gathering together regularly, praying together regularly, having fellowship with one another, calling one another, encouraging one another.” Rivers continued, “There are so many benefits and it’s not something really that as a school we can mandate. It needs to be an organic outflowing of the presence of Holy Spirit in parents’ lives.”