Community Partnerships – Working Together!

What started as food insecurity at a local public school and one church member’s desire to help through a weekly food program called Bridging a Gap (B.A.G) has now branched out into many more ministry opportunities in Federal Way, Washington.

St. Luke’s Lutheran Church partners with Mirror Lake Elementary School in Federal Way to find new ways to support and serve children in the community. Mirror Lake has opened the doors for St. Luke’s to serve primarily through the weekly B.A.G program, donating Thanksgiving food baskets, and setting up a Christmas shopping event for more than 70 students and their families. More personally, Mirror Lake has allowed St. Luke’s staff and church members to volunteer in the classroom each week and assist with reading, math, ESL tutoring, and even chaperoning field trips. Note: In 2022, St. Luke’s applied for and received a NOW District Catalyst Grant to assist with the B.A.G. program and other community engagement efforts like these. Keep watching for even more updates about their progress in the future!

Communication is the key to the trust between St. Luke’s and Mirror Lake staff and administration. For example: In terms of school safety plans, we have agreed to communicate with each other in case of an emergency and to each serve as an evacuation site should the need arise. If there are specific obstacles to a student’s learning environment, those are communicated to us as well so that we can come up with a plan together. One such specific obstacle was the lack of funding for feminine hygiene products, something that not every student at Mirror Lake has access to at home. The school’s Family Liaison, Cassandra Lewis, and St. Luke’s Director of Family Life and Community Engagement, Brenda Segovia, discussed the best course of action to fulfill that need together. It is so helpful to have a level of trust and communication where specific and real needs are communicated, rather than us as a church trying to guess what is needed and how to help.

While the support from St. Luke’s is not overtly evangelistic in nature (we likely wouldn’t have access to the school if that were the case), there have been several Mirror Lake families lately who have come to worship at St. Luke’s! One family received a Thanksgiving food basket and Christmas gifts from St. Luke’s last year and have since enrolled in Sunday School and have begun attending Adult Bible study! Praise God! Similarly, another Mirror Lake family who had recently emigrated from Russia and had been living in transitional housing attended Easter services this year and came back the next week to enroll in Sunday School. This family speaks very limited English, yet still appreciated attending a warm and inviting Lutheran church so much that they decided to come back.

We are so excited to continue to strengthen the relationship and partnership that we have with Mirror Lake! We’ve already begun to plan for next year’s Back to School Bash to help support families with school supplies. There are also plans to begin hosting after-school ESL tutoring sessions utilizing resources that Mirror Lake is already using in their classrooms. They have agreed to share those resources, and St. Luke’s is more than happy to find volunteers and share our facilities to make that happen.

It is important to both the school and the church that this relationship remains a true partnership. This is not us as a church merely serving and doing things for these students – but really, it’s St. Luke’s and Mirror Lake staff doing this together to love these students well.

There is much work to be done in our local community, but it is a joy to do that work together.

Brenda Segovia

Director of Family Life and Community Engagement, St. Luke's Lutheran Church

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