Memorial Baptist Church in Norwood broke ground Feb. 1 for its newly formed Christian school. Norwood town officials joined church members and Tillery Christian Academy’s (TCA) board of directors for the event that board chairman Tom Gray called a “milestone.”
At right, board members from the newly formed Tillery Christian Academy (TCA) gather with Memorial Baptist Church staff and members and Norwood town officials to break ground on facilities for TCA. Modular units will be used until a permanent facility is built. Classes start in August. Memorial Pastor Josh Phillips said the school is one way his church can support developing a biblical worldview in their community and beyond.
Addressing the gathering, Gray talked about the school’s vision and the obstacles they had to overcome in the past 18 months. One obstacle was the failure of the church’s current facilities to meet codes for educational instruction. Adjacent to the church’s facilities, modular units are under construction to provide temporary classrooms and offices until a permanent facility is built.
Gray thanked the area residents and church members for continued support for the school that will open its doors debt free in August.
He said the school’s purpose is to “glorify God through providing education with a biblical worldview to children for ages to come.”
Josh Phillips, Memorial’s pastor, read from Ezra 3:10-11 where God’s people celebrated the laying of the temple’s foundation. Nathan Fox, the first pastor of Memorial, concluded with a prayer of thanksgiving and led the gathering in singing “God Bless America.”
Phillips told the Biblical Recorder the vision for the school began 18 months ago. Gray was concerned that children in the community and across the country were not developing a Christian worldview through the public school system. They discussed some alternatives for Christian education and gathered information from other churches that had successful Christian schools.
“The more we prayed independently, it was unique how God was putting our spirits together in the need,” Phillips said. At the same time, it was announced that the local elementary school may close.
“We were blessed that the elementary school did not close, but that did not change our vision for Christian education. Unfortunately, our teachers and administrators, within the public schools are handcuffed. When it comes to a biblical worldview, they just can’t do much. They can’t teach the Bible in public classrooms, but we believe we should do that,” said Phillips.
Gray and Phillips observed that churches have about two to three hours each week to teach children, while public schools have 30 to 35 hours to teach them.
“It doesn’t take long to see that [education] is stacked against us,” Phillips said. “So, what can we do to invest in these students so that when they graduate from high school … they can have a biblical worldview? Whether they become attorneys, doctors, teachers, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, – no matter what they are – they need to come out of their education with a biblical worldview.”
There are two small Christian schools in the area according to Phillips. “We’re in southern tip of Stanly County, close to Anson and Montgomery counties. There are very few Christian schools in these counties.”
TCA’s board hired Beverly McIntire as the headmistress of TCA. She has a doctorate in curriculum and instruction with a specialty in literacy from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and 35 years of teaching experience from preschool children to college students.
“We’re not against our public schools,” Phillips added. “That’s not our ambition, our goal or our motive. What we want to do as a church is to ask, ‘How can we better equip boys and girls to develop that biblical worldview?’ Unfortunately, our local schools can’t do it anymore because of the restrictions that are placed upon them.
“I’m very excited about this opportunity for our church,” said Phillips. “First, we believe the Bible, and we believe in a biblical worldview. Now we have the opportunity to be an extension of that with a ministry in the community where we live. … My most exciting part about this is seeing the potential this has for our future – five, 10 or 15 years down the road as these students graduate and get plugged into society and function in their everyday life based on the biblical education they received at Tillery Christian Academy.
TCA plans to open in the fall with kindergarten through third grade, adding additional grades each year. For more information, visit the school’s website tillerychristianacademy.wordpress.com.