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GUEST COLUMN

Despite separation of church and state,our hearts reach out to God in many faiths

Despite separation of church and state,our hearts reach out to God in many faiths

BY DR. RICHARD D. COLE

In a hymn written by David Wass, we are called to the words:

"We are called to act with justice. We are called to love tenderly. We are called to serve one another. To walk humbly (with God)."

These words remind me of the changes over the years regarding the separation of church and state in our public schools.

There has been a movement by our courts and government to move away from school-led prayers to a quiet time for all faiths to have a chance to reflect upon their own beliefs. We have also moved away from school-led baccalaureate to one that is led by our local ministers and youth. At graduation, there is no longer a prayer as part of the ceremony. Students can offer prayer as part of their own speeches, but not prompted by faculty or staff.

The courts and government have established that our public schools not advocate or endorse a particular religion, believing spiritual nourishment is best left to the family and religious institutions.

Consequently, some in our community assume that public schools are devoid of anything related to Christianity and its values; some seek the clear statement of Christian spirit found in most private schools.

Contrary to this thought, our public schools are full of staff members who demonstrate the principles of service and love by modeling Wass's hymn. Our staff acts with justice in giving every single student the opportunity to succeed in life. They act with love in treating each of their students as if they were their own children, constantly going the extra mile to give them the best educational experience possible. Our staff models a desire to serve through their devotion to serving our community, volunteering their time and donating their money to local charities. They also act with humility in their desire to continually reflect upon their instructional practices and refining them through professional development.

While our democracy calls for a separation of church and state, our hearts reach out to God in many faiths, actions and attitudes.

I am honored to be a member of the Sunnyside community, and for all the caring, loving members of our community.

Think of all of the groups in our community doing God's work, such as our local churches, food banks, Lower Valley Crisis Center, Lower Valley Hospice, the Ministerial Association, Sunnyside's Promise, Transformation Sunnyside, Young Life and many, many more. This truly is a caring and loving community, with so many demonstrating the fruits of the spirit.

The love for one another is alive in our community, in our schools and in our hearts!

- Dr. Richard D. Cole

is superintendent

of the Sunnyside School District.

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