A loving urgency


We United Methodists, 1,142 congregations with more than 180,000 members, continue to show in the wake of Katrina that we respond to urgency.


At Annual Conference in June, Dr. Hank Bounds led us toward an urgency that continues: The needs of public education in our state. We enthusiastically responded when he urged us to make a difference for children.


It is time to act. The state Board of Education and Dr. Bounds are pressing for full funding of the Mississippi Adequate Education Plan, for higher teacher salaries, for high school redesign to prevent the present 35 percent drop-out rate and piloting of a pre-kindergarten program in Mississippi. These are all urgent matters.


We are grateful that Gov. Haley Barbour acknowledges that MAEP is not for administrators but for basic needs of our teachers and students. MAEP and teacher salaries are complementary, not in competition with each other. Full funding of MAEP, higher teacher salaries, drop-out prevention through high school redesign and pre-kindergarten are our best hopes for reducing impoverishment in Mississippi and strengthening the future of our state.


Our son, Jason, came to Mississippi through Teach for America, teaching elementary school for two years in Ruleville. For Christmas each year, he asked for Wal-Mart certificates in order to buy basic supplies for his classroom. Our public school teachers lack basic support that MAEP will provide.


I hope you will contact your state legislators before they return to Jackson. Your call, e-mail or letter will make a difference.


I hope to see you at 2 p.m. Oct. 15 at Anderson United Methodist Church.  Episcopal Bishop Duncan Gray, Roman Catholic Bishop Joseph Latino and I, along with others in the community of faith, will celebrate with you Congregations for Children, an initiative to love, support and advocate for the children of Mississippi. A short workshop will be offered after the celebration for any who seek help for faithfulness in this effort.