2018 Year in Review: Kindling Candles
“A Light Here Kindled”
Almost 400 years ago, a small group of Christian families made the radical decision to leave the comforts of civilization, travel thousands of miles across the open sea, and settle in the inhospitable wilderness of the American eastern seaboard. Decades after the founding of Plymouth Plantation, Governor William Bradford summed up his humble estimation of the Pilgrim’s legacy:
“Thus out of small beginnings greater things have been produced by His hand that made all things of nothing, and gives being to all things that are; and, as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many, yea in some sort to our whole nation; let the glorious name of Jehovah have all the praise.”
It’s been 35 years since one Christian family in Maryland made the radical decision to teach their children at home, resulting in the opening of Wellspring Christian Family Schools. Since it began operations, WCFS’ desire has been to light a passion in the hearts of parents to treasure God’s design for their families. It has been our joy to see God fulfill that desire as hundreds of families over the decades have chosen to home educate through WCFS. Graduates of those families are now serving the Lord in their own homes, on the mission field, in business, in the political arena, in ministry, and in many other avenues.
WCFS’ vision for Christ-centered, family-treasuring home education has spread around the world, with students in the Philippines and South Korea being home educated under WCFS’ affiliate programs. So “in some sort” the candle that was lit in 1983 “hath shone unto many,” and kindled a thousand more to God’s glory!
Please take a moment to look back with us at some of the candle-kindling God has done through WCFS at home and abroad this past year.
Kindling the Candle of Christian Education
This spring, WCFS launched its Heritage Educational License Program (HELP), an outgrowth of our affiliate program that has been in existence since 2005. HELP is an initiative geared specifically to churches and other faith-based groups interested in beginning a homeschool oversight program utilizing WCFS’ turn-key administrative system. WCFS currently has 4 HELP members, one in Maryland (Westminster Christian Family Schools), two in South Korea (Joshua International Academy and Global Homeschool Academy) and one in the Philippines (Homeschool Global).
In May, WCFS participated as a vendor at the Family Research Council’s “Watchmen on the Wall” Conference in Washington, D.C., an event designed especially for pastors. Over the three-day event, we were able to connect with 80 pastors from around the country about HELP.
In the wake of the HELP program’s launch, Gary has continued to personally connect with pastors and faith-leaders in the region. We also hosted a HELP Open House in June, which gave an overview of how the program works.
Our objective in 2019 is to continue to assist our current HELP members develop their programs, while continuing to spread the word to other potential members. We have a unique opportunity in the Philippines as our affiliate, Homeschool Global, has been asked to help develop educational programs for 4,000 of the Philippines’ 7,000 more remote islands. We appreciate your prayers!
Kindling the Candle of Homeschool Freedom
On March 5, 2018, HB 1798 was introduced into the Maryland House of Delegates. If enacted, this bill would have codified a requirement that county board of education officials be allowed to "observe instruction" within the homes of every homeschool-ing family in their jurisdiction, including families who were already being supervised by a private institution like WCFS. Family Heritage Matters, the legislative watchdog of WCFS, partnered with a coalition of home school organizations and thousands of home school families across the state to voice their opposition to the bill. Gary even made a special trip to Annapolis to meet with bill sponsors and discuss our concerns. Thankfully, the bill died before reaching a vote in the Assembly.
FHM will continue to monitor legislation affecting homeschooling families in Maryland in 2019.
Meanwhile, FHM has been able to maintain a good relationship with the Maryland State Department of Education. Later this month, Gary will speak, at the invitation of the MSDE, at a meeting of county boards of education to help them better understand Maryland homeschool law.
We are grateful for these opportunities to serve our state and local governments on behalf of Maryland homeschooling families!
Kindling the Candles of Christian Homeschooling Families
WCFS launched the new calendar year with our Mid-Year Teacher Conference in January, with the theme of “Pulling Your Kids Out of the Fire.” Families were reminded to have a big-picture perspective when it comes to homeschooling: they are raising their kids for heaven, not simply for temporary academic success on earth.
The conference was also an opportunity to honor Nancy Harlan, aka “Nana”, for her 31 years of service at WCFS!
Despite some rescheduling because of poor weather, WCFS staff and families hit the Ski Liberty slopes in February for a beautiful Ski Day—even the WCFS administrator let go of his prejudices about East Coast “mountains” and admitted that the PA ski resort runs were worthy of respect!
The WCFS 2017-18 Workshops Series focused on the treasures of III John, along with practical and spiritual insights for moms. Meantime, the elementary students gleaned insights from the Conquest of Canaan and played a little dodge ball along the way. The Student Council also met to plan for the several fundraisers they conducted throughout the school year.
April brought our 35th annual Family Heritage Expo held in conjunction with the Maryland Christian Home Educators (MACHE) Annual State Curriculum Fair at the Frederick Fairgrounds. The challenge of limited event space transformed the WCFS booth into a mini-museum of homeschool students’ masterpieces!
For the first time, the June WCFS Commencement Exercises were held at Walkersville Christian Fellowship, the parent church for WCFS, in Sabillasville, MD. Seven graduates of the WCFS Class of 2018 (another four could not be present) celebrated this special milestone amidst a full house of friends and family. Congratulations Class of 2018!
In August, WCFS hosted the 30th Family Leadership Conference at Roxbury Holiness Camp in Pennsylvania. IN addition to sessions centered on the theme of “Christian Insider Education For Such a Time As This,” the conference included an interactive Bible-story and hymn sign, a special tea honoring Sally Cox, a live radio broadcast, and a father-son human foosball game!
The Nathaniel Bowditch Mentoring Clinic and Biblical Foundations of Self-Government Class is in its second year, with a focus on I and II Peter and the life of George Washington Carver. 14 students are currently involved with the class and clinic.
Other highlights included a Men’s meeting in February and a Mom’s gathering in July!
Thank you for being God’s candles!
This Thanksgiving, as we reflect on what the Lord has done in 2018, we are foremost thankful for the many wonderful people (literally around the globe!) who make up the WCFS family. We are richly blessed to see how God is using each one of you to be His Light in our world. Now more than ever, people are craving authentic, faith-filled, love-driven demonstrations of Christianity—and you’re meeting that need.
We are excited for what the New Year brings and to partner with each of you in continuing to let our lights shine for Jesus, starting right in your home!
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)