TEXAS CITY — Churches have made their marks on their communities in a wide variety of ways, including reaching out to the very young. Our case in point: Texas City’s First United Methodist Church’s Oak Tree Day School has made a difference by providing small ones with a safe place to learn for 50 years.
That’s an anniversary the church will celebrate today.
“My cousins went to the school here when they were young, so we also started going,” said Adrienne Clark. “We did not have a church home, so it connected us with FUMC where we became active members. I helped work at the school during the summers and eventually had my own class. One of my students was my flower girl in my wedding. I started youth ministry at FUMC in 2004, and this is also how I met my husband.”
Patti Muniz, who directs the school, said it has grown mostly by word-of-mouth.
“Without a substantial marketing budget, we have been blessed year after year with families who enthusiastically spread the word about our program to friends and family members,” she said. “Each school year, including this one, we have families who are either related or neighbors or friends. This year, we have three separate sets of cousins and a pair of close friends.”
Day school may sound simple, but when it comes to asking the really hard questions, these students can challenge both philosophers and theologians. The Rev. Jeremy Wester, the church’s pastor, can so attest.
“It would be much easier to face a room full of my highly educated and decorated peers,” he said. “Children have a disarming way of cutting through the excuses and the insulation that we put between ourselves and the hard questions of life and faith. They don’t know the questions that adults learn to fear, which gives the refreshing reminder that there is nothing off limits from God.”
The church school is planning to extend its ministry in terms of numbers and hours.
“We’ve been exploring various options for expansion since I arrived, and I am excited to see where God will lead the program next,” Wester said. “With a dedicated director and an amazing group of teachers, the school has been a blessing to our church and will continue to serve this church and neighborhood for the next 50 years.”
At a glance
WHAT: Oak Tree Day School 50th anniversary celebration
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. today
WHERE: First United Methodist Church of Texas City, 317 5th Ave. N.
WHAT: The free event will feature a mini-circus put on by students, a children’s art show, games, crafts, vendors, food and a silent auction