I don’t normally use this blog as a platform for my favorite charitable causes, but today I want to make an exception to that rule and encourage readers to join me in supporting Minnehaha Academy, a Christian preK-12 school in Minneapolis.
Unlike many of my colleagues on the school’s board of trustees, I’m not a Minnehaha alum or parent; I was elected as a representative of my denomination’s regional conference. But I was drawn to the position because of my relationships with Minnehaha graduates who went on to attend Bethel. Invariably, they’ve been thoughtful students who already seemed to have a head start on our goal of “forming whole and holy persons.” In my experience, Minnehaha grads come to college primed for a rigorous education that challenges the head, shapes the heart, and equips the hands. And, to repeat another Bethel mantra, these students have already started “to make their faith their own.”
As I’ve had more firsthand experience of the students, teachers, administrators, parents, and alumni of Minnehaha, I feel like I’ve found a preK-12 school that is animated by something very much like the Pietist vision of education we wrote about last year. (Not a complete surprise, given the school’s close relationship with a denomination that I’ve identified closely with Pietism.) When we talk about how Pietists understand Christian formation next Thursday on our podcast, I’ll no doubt talk about Minnehaha — and perhaps use some of the language from its philosophy of education statement. (Or when we record this afternoon on Pietism’s irenic spirit, perhaps I’ll echo the Minnehaha language defining Christian unity as something “based on care for one another rather than conformity.”)
But I’m also struck that Minnehaha (more than Bethel) lives out that vision within the context of a diverse, urban community. Community service is built into the curriculum. Young people of color make up over 25% of the student body. And while the school is “distinctively Christian” and has required chapel attendance, the way that it pursues whole-person education within a caring community attracts families from other religious traditions.
Of course, for families of all backgrounds, the cost of a private school education can be a challenge. So this Sunday I’m honored to be hosting a couple of tables at Minnehaha’s annual Heritage & Hope Dinner, which celebrates the achievements of students and helps to build the school’s tuition assistance fund.
If you resonate with what you’ve heard about the mission of Minnehaha and have the ability to help make it more accessible to more families, please consider making a gift today.