A Christian ministry in Ohio that provides biblical education to public school students expects some 30,000 students to enroll in its program this school year.
LifeWise Academy, an organization that provides biblical instruction for public school students, has partnered with more than 300 schools across the country. The teaching happens as part of dedicated "released time," The Christian Post reports.
According to Middle Tennessee State University, released time programs allow for public school students, with parental permission, to leave campus during school hours to receive religious education. Program participation is privately funded.
LifeWise founder and CEO Joel Penton told The Christian Post that the organization has grown because of a "simple 10-Step launch process that any community can initiate."
"It begins with local communities cultivating interest through our 'Community Interests List' signature campaign that can be found on our website LifeWise.org. After interest grows, we then establish local steering committees and formulate a plan to launch," he said.
He noted that the programs have "received far less resistance than we anticipated" even though the organization is providing biblical teaching to public school students.
"Most schools and parents are very open to the idea. Schools know there is a great need in the lives of students. And seeing as it's an entirely optional program, there simply aren't many people who see it as a problem," Penton said.
Penton highlighted the importance of such programs for underserved kids.
"For decades, faith-based organizations have been imparting Scripture and the value of faith with public school students before and after school. But the students who most need to be reached are often missed due to logistical and scheduling challenges," Penton said. "Operating during school hours, with the permission of both parents and school administrators, has allowed us to better integrate into the school's culture and reach those previously left out."
Including Ohio, LifeWise Academy states include Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.
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Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.