Back-to-school is a chaotic time at University United Methodist Church in San Antonio. The church is located right next door to Locke Hill Elementary School. The school and church are close enough that they share parking lots. Likewise, University members use Locke Hill's parking for overflow on Sunday mornings. During the week, University's parking lot is used as overflow teacher parking and by parents dropping off their kids.
The first day of school is always a little crazy. While many children ride the bus or are dropped off in the drop-off lane, on the first day, many parents prefer to walk their kids to class. This creates a lot of traffic in the University parking lot. With lots of cars, children and first day jitters, the day can be quite stressful.
Three years ago, one of the pastors witnessed a near-collision and wondered if the church might take a more active role. The following year, when the first day of school arrived, the church was ready. A team of volunteers showed up early with coffee, juice, and muffins. Church members were there to help with traffic control, greet students, and parents, and even to pray with parents adjusting to their child's first year of school. The tradition has continued. As tradition continues, University was set up and ready when parents and kids arrived on August 24.
“We can no longer sit back in our shiny white castle and believe we will attract people to our church,” said Jeff Kamp, University member. “We must get out and go into the community to demonstrate what a relationship with Jesus Christ looks like."
"God is all about relationships. God has called us to be his ambassadors,” said Chrissie Smith. “He wants us to have meaningful relationships with people and represent God to others especially those who are not likely to be found in a church."
University has continued the back-to-school tradition each year and has continued to grow its support of the school, its teachers and students. In addition to the first day of school ministry, University provides Christmas gifts, food, clothes, dental and vision care to families in need during the holidays.
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