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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Where there's Hope, there's Friday School

The schools in Morrow County, Ore., may be closed on Fridays, but at Hope Lutheran Church classes are in full swing. Stan Hoobing, pastor of Hope in Heppner, began Friday School last year after the school district cut class attendance to four days a week for financial reasons.

"We wanted to be able to fill a need in the community, and this was one way to do that," Hoobing said.

The school recruited children--preschool through sixth grade--by word-of-mouth and with an ad in the local paper. The school was promoted as a non-denominational Christian-based program.

The school's directors (including Hoobing, an Episcopal priest, a Methodist minister and a medical doctor) run the six-hour program, beginning with a worship service of songs, a Bible text and a skit or story. The rest of the day includes Bible study, arts and crafts, story hour and a closing worship.

The Bible stories told don't reflect one Protestant view more than another, Hoobing said. Rather, general spiritual messages about caring for others and being honest are emphasized.

Students bring their lunch, which helps keep tuition down to $10 per child or $20 per family. Average attendance has grown from 19 last year to 27.

Since the school is held in a church, it isn't restricted by any school district guidelines, nor are leaders required to have a teaching or business license, Hoobing said. Parents are only asked to fill out a medical release.

Patti Allstott sends her two children, ages 6 and 9, to Friday School. "I think it's wonderful for them because it's productive time," she said. "And it's a good opportunity to get some Christian education. ... They look forward to it, and enjoy the [Bible] stories as much as they do playing with the other kids."


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