by Alesha Gunn
"Don’t talk about it, be about it.” So often this refrain is heard in Boston’s urban communities, but it usually ends there. Folks love to talk the talk, but when it’s time to walk the walk, most are nowhere to be found. But then, there’s the historic Roxbury Presbyterian Church on Warren Street.
Two Septembers ago, Roxbury Presbyterian Church launched its “Dream Again” campaign, in hopes of inspiring the local community to rise up out of its brokenness and begin to fulfill the dreams it had once given up on. After spending some time focusing on pursuing their individual dreams, members of RPC decided to move forward with pursuing a collective dream of improving the educational conditions of the schools in the Roxbury community. This dream quickly became reality when the church adopted two schools in the neighborhood: The Dearborn Middle School and the Higginson-Lewis K-8 school. Thus, RPC’s Adopt-A-School program was born, in connection with the church’s Social Impact Center and the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, and the Trinity Boston Foundation.
The Adopt-A-School program was established to support the families, teachers, and students of the two adopted schools in various capacities. Services being offered include tutoring, child-care services, and family counseling.
I had the privilege of speaking with the pastor of Roxbury Presbyterian Church, and leader of the Adopt-A-School program, Reverend Hurmon Hamilton. I was most interested in hearing his thoughts about how he saw the church’s role in such a program, given constitutional constraints of the separation of church and state. I believe that schools should maintain an atmosphere that is tolerant and accepting of all faiths. However, I do not believe that educational aid should be rejected simply because it is being offered by a religious institution. Reverend Hamilton made it clear that it was not the church's mission to go into the schools to preach the Gospel, but rather act out the Gospel by doing good works. He talked about the various components of the program, such as Project MCAS, which offers tutoring to sixth graders to help them prepare for the MCAS exam. He also spoke about the church's historic role in education, as well as his hope to inspire other organizations to launch projects similar to the Adopt-A-School program.
It is great to see the dream of Roxbury Presbyterian Church come to fruition. It is incredibly inspiring and it also affirms the facts that people should always follow their dreams because not only will the pursuit lead them to a happier life; it will allow them to bless others along the way. What could possibly be better than that?