(L-R: Avery Hilton, School Ministries Board Member; Ken Breivik, School Ministries Executive Director, & Carolyn Baer, Breakaway Released Time Christian Ed, Smithville, Ohio) Carolyn Baer receives the 2016 School Ministries Volunteer of the Year award at the 25th Annual School Ministries Conference
“I accept this award as evidence of what God can do with clay pots,” Carolyn reflected about her School Ministries volunteer of the year award for her work for Ohio released time Bible education. She said it was an honor to receive the award at this year’s conference.
This beautiful “clay pot,” Carolyn Baer, is truly a “moving force” for the Breakaway Released Time Christian Ed program of Smithville, Ohio. Not only has she taught students and led adult volunteers and organizers at the local level, Carolyn has worked at the state and regional levels, too, and she has served as a member of the national School Ministries committee on curriculum.
Carolyn led the effort to begin Breakaway high school released time classes for credit last year, under Ohio’s new Released Time Religious Instruction Act. The start of those released time classes has made clear the need for more space. As a visionary who’s never afraid to roll up her sleeves, Carolyn stepped forward to reprise her role as chief organizer, cheerleader and fundraiser for when the facility was built originally — a beautiful building constructed with an unbelievably low cost (as only the Lord can honor good stewardship.) Currently, Carolyn is leading the effort to rally community support to build onto their strategically placed RT building (on private property adjacent to school grounds).
Through the years, Carolyn has been watchful and receptive to those communities which might start released time Christian education programs. She has been quick to help them, generous to invite inquirers to observe classes at Breakaway, and faithful to point them toward resources available through WeCARE and School Ministries. Just this past year, she had a hand in giving counsel and encouragement to organizing groups in the Wayne County and Wooster areas; one received approval and started classes January of 2016.
More than that, Carolyn responded to our invitation to educate her peers and released time Bible education administrators by leading a session at last year’s regional conference. Its title was “ABCs of RT: Academics, Bible and Creativity”, and had grown out of God’s leading to incorporate state teaching standards into the RTBE programming. This became necessary when their public school administration began to express concern that their district might no longer have time to allot to their longstanding elementary school released time classes, as success in state testing was assuming a greater and greater emphasis in the district and statewide. Carolyn knew change was needed and was inspired to develop RTBE classes that reinforced state teaching standards. RTBE educators around Ohio and Indiana were inspired to consider a similar approach in their elementary classes.
Carolyn describes God’s movement at Breakaway as a stirring in the Christian community to reach public school children and to introduce them to their Heavenly Father. Many children have had great needs, and by His Spirit, God has orchestrated more than 30 volunteers to care for them and to share His love, all through multi-faceted Bible lessons that encourage participation, group work, “tutoring” and interactive time. Carolyn says “We offer what we have for that mission though it be but five loaves or two fish. Jesus then multiplies our meager offering to reach the children that He loves and that He yearns to bring into the family of believers.”
One of her favorite stories of children being moved by God through Breakaway’s released time program was when she and her team were teaching about prayer. At one of the stations, the students built a Lego tower with thank-you prayers. A Kindergartener offered this thank you prayer: “I am thankful for Breakaway because before I came here I didn’t know about God but now I believe in Him.”
It’s amazing what God can do with willing “clay pots.” He can bestow gifts and mobilize to reach hearts to transform lives, sharing His treasure with more and more people. And that’s just what He’s doing through our 2016 School Ministries Volunteer of the Year, Carolyn Baer, as she teaches, organizes and leads so that more children would know the Good News! We’re so grateful for you, Carolyn, not only for your work sharing God’s Truth with public school youth locally, but for leveraging your gifts and experiences to grow the ministry to more children near and far, and to equip future leaders around Ohio and nationwide.
We deeply appreciate Carolyn and all the hardworking, faithful members of Breakaway, and each Ohio released time group! What a blessing God has brought us all together to bring word of his love and love of his Word to public schoolchildren!
“Yet we who have this spiritual treasure are like common clay pots, in order to show that the supreme power belongs to God, not to us.” 2 Cor 4:7
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