It was a sad and difficult day. A Cassadaga Valley Senior was tragically killed in a farm accident over the weekend, and this morning school was in session. At times like this, the school administration reaches out to the religious community and we to them, working side by side to help the students and staff deal with the loss they feel so keenly. It wasn't always like this. Twenty five years ago the administration, intimidated by ill-informed legal advice they had received, severed relationships with the area churches, citing separation of church and state. Baccalaureate services were no longer permitted, and overt Christian presence on campus was all but eliminated. Sadly, I failed on my part to continue to reach out to the educational community as I might have done, and it wasn't until my son began meeting with kids at school as well as at church and in the community, that things began to thaw.
A new administration has realized the importance of working with the entire community, and they and pastor Joe, along with Nate and Matt Slaven from Park church, and pastor Dave and his associates Tim and Larry from the Gerry Free Methodist church have been working hard to restore the partnerships that had been torn years ago.
So this morning seven pastors, youth leaders, and Christian workers met with staff and students, listening and even praying with some. I was impressed with the leadership given by our new superintendent, the school counselors, their desire to treat the school community as family, and their genuine love for the students. I've often commented on the blessings of living in a small rural community. Today demonstrated to me once more why I love living here. I am thankful for my fellow pastors, for the school administration, and for the new collegial working relationship I see developing. And I am thankful for those who picked up the ball I dropped, helping to restore these relationships for the good of the entire community.