Ecclesial Schools Initiative’s church/school collaboration offers ‘classic liberal arts’ education and a ‘formative Christian community,’ founder says
February 7, 2022
PEORIA, Ill. — Parents nationwide are seeking better educational opportunities for their children, and many are taking action to produce needed change. One notable example is Samaritan Ministries International (samaritanministries.org) member Kevin Clark, who is passionate about offering children Biblically based classical education widely practiced in America’s founding era that produced our nation’s early leaders.
In 2019, Clark opened the Ecclesial Schools Initiative (ESI) at St. Alban’s Anglican Cathedral in Oviedo, Florida. The school is the first in an effort to establish many classical schools housed within churches nationwide. The COVID-19 pandemic caused unexpected challenges as it did with most schools, but the St. Alban’s flagship campus is now growing quickly.
“We have many extraordinary members like Kevin,” said Anthony Hopp, Samaritan vice president and chief purpose officer. “Kevin’s love of the Lord, children and the value of classical education led him to start this special school ministry aligned with churches.”
At the heart of the program are these characteristics:
- Giving students foundational learning skills that Clark describes as “learning how to learn.”
- Classes rooted in Scripture and including the great stories of human tradition in literature and history.
- Christian-centered teaching focused on formative beliefs where Christian formation is not just “the icing on the cake” but “woven throughout the curriculum.”
One of the goals of ESI is to make Christian classical education obtainable by all families who want it.
“All too often, Christian classical schools are only available to well-to-do families,” Clark says. Through a combination of Florida’s tax credit scholarship funding and private philanthropy, ESI is “completely financially accessible to any family regardless of their income.”
At St. Alban’s, although tuition is $10,075, some families pay no more than $500. Nearly 85 percent of students qualify for full need-based tax-credit scholarships, Clark says.
The word “ecclesial” comes from the Greek word ekklesia, meaning church. Partnering with a church facility is an important way to keep costs down and school affordable.
Ecclesial Schools Initiative also offers Samaritan membership to staff as a health care option.
Health insurance “wasn’t really working” for Kevin and his wife, Taryn, he says. “It was impersonal in the way customers are treated. It seemed like the goal was to get you connected into a network of doctors and pharmaceuticals… it didn’t seem like the primary thing was us being well cared for. That rubbed us the wrong way.”
The couple also had two of their four children after becoming Samaritan members.
“It’s been extraordinary,” Clark says. “All of my children were born C-section, which means they were pretty significant needs that we submitted. You get not only your needs met by fellow Christians, but the notes you receive are wonderful. There have been a couple of other small medical events, too, and with every single one of them it’s been amazing.”
Clark notes he appreciates other personal aspects of being a Samaritan member: “Every month when I write my share and send it out with a note, I know that it’s going to real people.”
“Our Lord instructed Christians to look after each other’s needs,” Hopp says. “Kevin’s dedication to providing this important educational option is inspiring. We are very glad membership in Samaritan provides financial relief from burdensome health insurance costs to help this worthy endeavor and hope to see success for the Ecclesial School effort.”
For more about the Ecclesial School Initiative and the Clark family’s experiences with Samaritan, see Samaritan’s January Christian Health Care Newsletter.
Samaritan Ministries currently has a membership of 282,201 individuals from 85,402 households.
Unlike health insurance, Samaritan Ministries has no limited enrollment period. Government exchange-based health insurance requires signups to occur only during open enrollment periods unless one qualifies for a special enrollment period due to a “life event,” such as losing coverage, getting married, moving, or having a baby.
Samaritan Ministries health care sharingoffers several advantages:
- No network restrictions. When medical care is needed, Samaritan members choose the health care provider, hospital, and pharmacy that work best for them.
- The direct-sharing approach allows members to not only help fellow believers with their medical financial needs but to pray for and connect with them on a regular basis.
- Monthly shares are hundreds of dollars less per month than traditional insurance.
Samaritan Ministries gives people of Biblical faith an effective, Bible-driven health care community in which approximately $30 million in medical needs is shared person to person every month. Over the past 27 years, Samaritan Ministries members have shared more than $3 billion in needs while also praying for and encouraging fellow members through personal notes, cards and letters.