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Church celebrates education

First Presbyterian of Inverness will present Public Education Emphasis Sunday during worship services.

In an effort to show love and support for those working within the local public school system, First Presbyterian Church of Inverness is celebrating Public Education Emphasis Sundayduring its Sunday worship services.

Recognition and dedication services for Citrus County school administrators, teachers and support staff will be held for the upcoming 1999-2000 school year, according to the Rev. Steve Robertson, associate pastor at the church.

Pete Kelly, superintendent of schools for Citrus County, will participate in the service, along with other school system members. The Rev. Craig Davies, pastor of the church, will preach a sermon, "The Education of Our Children."

Robertson said this is the first time the church has sponsored this type of celebration for local public school educators and their support staff. The celebration also is part of the current year'sdesignation by the Presbyterian Church as the "Year With Education."

"Public education is very important to us because Presbyterians have had a long history of being involved in public education, back to the founding of the Presbyterian faith through John Calvin and his concept that everyone should be able to read the Bible," Robertson said.

"In order for everyone to be able to read the Bible, they needed to know how to read first. So in Geneva, Switzerland, he began to establish a free public education system for everyone," Robertson said. "We believe today that the public education system, while it is flawed as anything else in the world, also needs our support, our help, our care and our involvement, rather than us just abandoning the system. It is the best way to offer quality education to the greatest number of people.

"We may not be able to go into the school system itself, but we can invite them here and let them know that we are behind them and that we have asked God's blessing upon their work.

"I think that our goal would be to remind the staff and the students that God is as much a part of their life together at school as here in the church, and hopefully that will guide their values and their thinking. We have recognized the importance of these people as part of our community, particularly in relationship to the last year or two with the Columbine shooting and other incidences in the school. We believe that they need our support and prayers and that all of the folks in the public school system need God's help," he said.

Robertson said that the church has about 25 to 30 members that he is aware of that are employed in the public school system, from principals to teachers to support staff and bus drivers. "We also have a lot of retired educators and teachers here," he said.

Robertson said that his desire also is to make parents and others aware of their responsibility in training their children, which will affect their behavior and how they deal with their teachers in the classroom.

"I think that people take education seriously, but there is so much expected of the education system today. They are expected to teach morals and values, as well as reading, writing and technical skills, and that is just a lot to expect," he said.

"To a large extent the moral values that children need, need to be taught at the home and in the church, not just at school.

"We want this (services on Sunday) to show that we as a church and we as Christians, representing all of the churches in our community, are behind them (educators and support staff) and are supporting them and are praying for them in the work that they do."

Sunday's worship services will be at 8:30 and 11 a.m., with an ongoing reception between services from 9:30 to 10:45 a.m. Several youths from the church also will participate in the service.

The church is at 206 Washington Ave. and State Road 44 E in Inverness. For information, call 637-0770.