April 2008

There is a high school dropout epidemic in America. Each year, almost one
third of all public high school students – and nearly one half of all blacks,
Hispanics and Native Americans – fail to graduate from public high school
with their class. Many of these students abandon school with less than two years
to complete their high school education.
This tragic cycle has not substantially improved during the past few decades
when education reform has been high on the public agenda. During this time, the
public has been almost entirely unaware of the severity of the dropout problem
due to inaccurate data. The consequences remain tragic.
The decision to drop out is a dangerous one for the student. Dropouts are
much more likely than their peers who graduate to be unemployed, living in
poverty, receiving public assistance, in prison, on death row, unhealthy, divorced,
and single parents with children who drop out from high school themselves.
Our communities and nation also suffer from the dropout epidemic due to
the loss of productive workers and the higher costs associated with increased
incarceration, health care and social services.
Given the clear detrimental economic and personal costs to them, why do
young people drop out of high school in such large numbers? Almost every
elementary and middle school student reports ambitions that include high
school graduation and at least some college. Why are so many dreams cut
short? And what steps should be taken to turn the tide?
In an effort to better understand the lives and circumstances of students
who drop out of high school and to help ground the research in the stories and
reflections of the former students themselves, a series of focus groups and a
survey were conducted of young people aged 16-25 who identified themselves
as high school dropouts in 25 different locations throughout the United States.
These interviews took place in large cities, suburbs and small towns with high
dropout rates.
A primary purpose of this report is to approach the dropout problem from a
perspective that has not been much considered in past studies – that of the students
themselves. These efforts were designed to paint a more in-depth picture of
who these young people are, why they dropped out of high school, and what might
have helped them complete their high school education. We wanted to give their
stories and insights a voice, and to offer our own views on next steps, in the hope
that this report could be a further wake-up call to educators, policymakers, other
leaders, and the public

Click Here To Get the Entire Report

The response from the Body of Christ has been weak to this epidemic. There should be more Christian Schools/ Values Centered Charter Schools, after school programs (especially in urban areas) and Christians volunteering as tutors and mentors. Community based after school programs is an excellent opportunity for revitalizing congregations to connect with the youth of the community.

Yes I am a little biased but it is still a great sermon

Rev Michelle Holmes Chaney – John 14

I had a few minutes last Friday to read the Gazette newspaper and the first article to catch my eye was English Proposed as Official Language”. After reading the article I am thoroughly convinced that Frederick County needs progressive leadership from its county commissioners to be viable in the 21st Century.

We live in a global, multicultural and multilingual economic environment. There are international companies that are looking for locations that have an excellent quality of life, easy access to Washington and a cost effective delivery service for their products. This plan to make English the official language of the county discourages international commerce and international companies from considering Frederick as a viable place to locate their business.

There are companies currently located in Frederick that are recruiting the best and the brightest in their fields many who are immigrants who decide to bring their families to the US. This proposal discourages these families from moving to the Frederick in favor of counties that embrace diversity and provide translation support services.

This proposal will discourage the families who get jobs in the Washington DC area from moving to Frederick. The Chinese doctor, El Salvadorian CPA, Burmese professor, Cuban professor and Angolan engineer that are home owners, tax payers and caring for their elderly parents who primarily speak their native language will be penalized because of an attempt to maintain a colonization style of top down leadership.

I have not experienced the commissioner in conversations with the minority communities, yet he seeks a solution to illegal immigrants. The majority of immigrants are legal and Frederick is in an excellent position to be the model multicultural community if we maintain the high quality of life, access to quality cultural activities and support services that are available to all residents of the county. I have not experienced the commissioner in conversations where the minority communities are addressing health disparities, education disparities and gang issues which are a threat to the quality of life infrastructure of our County. These are the areas where our county commissioners can find solutions, build coalitions and transform the county from a mid 20th Century homogeneous society mindset to a progressive 21st Century Leadership mindset.

The proposal to make English the official language of the county is not good leadership.

Ephesians 4:31-5:2

31-32Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 5

1-2Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. (The Message)

Our behavior and spiritual disciplines are the most observable indicators of our relationship with God. How often do we pray, meditate, worship, tithe, share our time, talent, financial resources, encouragement and our engagement with the marginalized, the poor and the downtrodden are all outward expressions of our fiath maturity and relationship with God. When we forgive others, share unconditional, love extravagantly and show grace to people who are difficult to deal with we are following the model of Christ.

Human beings that have not fully embraced the awesome unconditional love, unlimited grace and unmerited favor of God can not live out of the paradigm of sharing what God has given them. If you are bitter you pass on bitterness. If you are frustrated you pass on frustration. If you are disillusioned with life you pass on disillusionment. But, for those of us who believe in Jesus and have experienced the love, grace and forgiveness of God it should be a natural everyday occurrence that you share what God has given to you. As the people of God we are the most powerful force for personal, community and global transformation.

One of the challenges that the church faces is that believers have abdicated their personal responsibility to mature and be more like Christ. We are in church building a lot doing church work but are we maturing in our faith, are we trusting God for every moment of our existence? In the process we have outsourced the care, compassion and justice components of our faith to professional clergy, social service agencies, and para-church organizations. Some of them are doing a fantastic job but my challenge is that we accept Paul’s words as a challenge to our daily living.

Peter Gomes wrote a book, “The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus: What’s So Good About the Good News?” One of his critiques is was of the phrase “What would Jesus do?” He argues that there are no circumstances that we will encounter when we can do what Jesus would do. We are not divine, we are blemished with sin and we are not in the 1st Century. He suggests a better question which is also my challenge to each person in our congregation. “What would Jesus have me do with the resources and relationships that I have for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.?” What are you willing to do as a member of the Body of Christ to impact somebody’s life for the Kingdom of God?

Proverbs 14:29

“He or she who is impulsive exalts folly.”

Christian Stewardship Translation

The person who buys impulsively promotes a fantasy regarding their saving plan

We learned in our financial seminars last week that a savings plan is essential for everyone. The ultimate goal is to live on 70% income. Dedicate 10% of your income to tithing to the church, 10% toward your retirement and 10% to your savings plan.

Your savings plan should include six months of salary, an emergency fund, a vacation fund, a savings plan for your children’s education and a savings plan to care for elderly parents. Buying electronics, shoes and even going out to eat impulsively can destroy your ability to stay on track with your plan. Here are a few tips to stay on track:

  1. Track your spending habits for 45 days
  2. Make adjustments in your spending habits
    1. Use coupons
    2. Watch for sales
    3. Buy in bulk
  3. Write the plan down
  4. Review the plan regularly
  5. Have your prayer partner hold you accountable