Weekly Religious Education will return for Staunton children during Holy Week in April.
However, the program will not be associated with Staunton Schools or Staunton School Board.
“We are going to start WRE back in Staunton as an after-school program,” said Becky Cox.
WRE will begin again on Monday, April 3, with walkers bringing children from Bessie Weller, McSwain and Ware elementary schools to WRE trailers at 3:15 p.m. and classes will end at 4:30 p.m.
Cox has been attending Staunton School Board meetings for a year with community members sharing their stories of how WRE introduced them to Jesus and the Bible when they were children. She had hoped the stories would inspire the school board to allow WRE to return to Staunton Schools after a six-year hiatus.
“It came down to the fact that they’re not going to bring the time-release policy back,” Cox said.
WRE was the school system’s only program under the time-release policy, which permitted students to leave during the school day and attend WRE.
According to Cox, Augusta County uses WRE as an elective course for students.
“I was told we are not the county,” she said.
As an after-school program, Staunton School Board will have no input about WRE.
The program needs teachers and volunteers and transportation for students. For now, the program will run without funding. In Augusta County, Cox said local churches give funds to the county toward WRE. Eventually, Staunton’s program will be funded by city churches.
“We cannot afford for many reasons to let these little children wait,” Cox said.
Local churches have sign-up sheets for volunteers to walk children to WRE, provide snacks and transportation.
“The bottom line is what we need now is how we’re going to let the parents know the program is back,” Cox said.
This Thursday, March 2, at 7 p.m., members of the community are invited to St. Paul’s Methodist Church, 2000 Shutterlee Mill Road in Staunton, to provide information about volunteering for WRE.
The program needs signatures from parents before children can attend.
“The numbers of children are not important,” Cox said, as long as the program gets started.
What’s important is children learning about the bible again in Staunton.
“We feel the urgency to get to the children. We just have a great thing to share,” Cox said.
Starting the program now gives children the opportunity to enjoy the program before summer, and stay in touch during the summer with activities at Gypsy Hill Park and Praise in the Park. WRE will have a float in this year’s 4th of July parade in Staunton.
“The bottom line is they need to know Jesus and the word of God,” Cox said.
Anyone interested in volunteering for WRE is welcome to call Becky Cox at 540-255-9773.