undoing our HISTORY: The Movement to Put a Church in Every School Is Growing
On a Sunday morning in July, a stream of cars motors up the scrub-oak-lined roadway that leads to Apopka High School. Passing under a marquee sign with Chick-fil-A: Outstanding Partner in Ed spelled out in black letters, they pull into the parking lot. Single adults, families and groups of teens gather in the school auditorium’s spacious vestibule. Two adolescent boys, one wearing a sports jersey and the other a Confederate-flag T-shirt, linger for a few moments by their truck before making their way inside.
At 10 am, the crowd files into the auditorium to hear the Gospel. Every Sunday, Apopka High School turns into Venue Church. Its motto: “Partnering with schools and communities to serve students and families to gain the privilege of sharing the love of Jesus for eternal impact.”
Venue now operates inside three public schools in Orange County, Florida, including Apopka, and it has no plans to leave. Indeed, the church proudly announces its goal: “To plant a congregation in every Central Florida school zone in the next 10 years.”
Another student, Kyle, says that the influence of religion isn’t restricted to football. Kyle, who is Jewish, played on the baseball team for two years. His teammates said Christian prayers before every game. “I just said the prayers to go along with everybody,” Kyle adds with an uncertain shrug. “You don’t want to be, you know, that guy.”
Kyle has heard a lot about the mission trips for student athletes organized by Venue Church. “Kids get really excited,” he says. “They all want to go. For most of them, it’s like the only time they’ve ever had the chance to travel out of the country.”
For anyone who doesn’t remember life before “Separation of Church and State” became a meme: Vashti McCullum of McCollum vs The Board of Education was a woman who brought the landmark case to the US Supreme Court in 1947-48. This is the case that determined that Religion could not be taught as part of the public school curriculum.