You might call it a cross between Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. “Show children love. Tell them about Jesus. Teach the Golden Rule of treating others as those children want to be treated,” say organizers of an active program in Winnfield called “Tuesday School.”
It was launched May 4, 2019, when four local women (Jane Purser, Annette Skains, Shelia Mitchell and Debbie Shows) developed the concept in the belief that children would behave better in school if they knew about Jesus. Most of the children had little active church involvement.
The idea was to teach as in Sunday School, except on Tuesdays after school hours (4:30 until 6 p.m.) Offer some snacks, maybe a little coloring, some fun activities. Initially, there were 12, maybe as many as 18 children. Success has been proven by the numbers which now range between 40 and 44, despite a trying time during the COVID years.
Tuesday School opened at First Presbyterian Church where numbers were growing until March 2020 when COVID shut down the in-person program. But Mitchell and Mary Lou Blackley who became involved early on didn’t want to see the progress die. Weekly they delivered snacks and lessons to the Tuesday School students.
As they looked to reopen school in January 2022, First Assembly of God which had been providing food once a month agreed to open its doors to the program. Pastor Shaun Garner offered van transportation. With vans to pick up the children, attendance grew. South Winnfield Baptist has continued to provide financial support for Tuesday School. When more transportation became needed, East Winnfield Baptist, First Baptist and First United Methodist pitched in.
So what’s the routine? When children get off the van, they move into assembly to hear the afternoon’s plans and an opening prayer. Then they break into age-related classes (K-Grade 2, 3-5 and 6-12, with that oldest group separated into boys and girls). There are then times for recreation and for snacks.
Then there’s Pastor Shaun’s idea of emphasize behavior, one of the founding concepts of Tuesday School. It’s a church-friendly boot camp drill where the children march to cadence as they recite Bible verses. This routine had caught on. The children will perform a special presentation in the First Assembly sanctuary on Aug. 1.
Those who’d like to enroll children in Tuesday School or to volunteer their own services may contact Mary Lou Blackley (318-481-0227) or Shelia Mitchell (318-209-0089)