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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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‘Summer school with a flair'

Pa. church opens doors — and books — to community children

When Christ Lutheran Church, Allentown, Pa., wanted to help its changing inner-city neighborhood, all it had to do was look across the street.

Proximity to the Allentown Library is beneficial for a church committed to improving literacy — and might very well have provided the inspiration needed to launch a summer school program last year.

Christ embraced the program after the principal of McKinley Elementary called and said the school had neither the space nor budget for summer school.

So William “Woody” Maxon, a pastor of Christ, asked the congregation to step up and hold the summer program at its facilities and help offset the costs. “We want to do literacy,” he said. “We think that’s what will change our neighborhood.” 

The summer effort is a natural outgrowth of the church’s weekly reading program, which has been underway for several years.

Library books are easily accessible to the 20 church volunteers who have read to first- and second-grade McKinley students every Tuesday for the past five years. Maxon recently read Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs to the students on his birthday.

The pastor, who inherited the program when he arrived at the church three years ago, said working with children has invigorated the aging, but large, congregation. With 160 worshipers on a Sunday, the once German Lutheran church has witnessed a rapidly changing neighborhood, where many families are Latino and struggle to read English to their children.


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