A leading Southern Baptist advocate of homeschooling urged a growing network to “send a clear message” to the new president of the Southern Baptist Convention that the homeschooling community “exists and is watching.”

Elizabeth Watkins of the Southern Baptist Church and Home Education Association said in an August e-newsletter that recent comments attributed to SBC president Frank Page “caused some concern among Southern Baptist homeschoolers.”

According to Agape Press, Page said he is disturbed that so many high school students drop out of church after they graduate.

While many “Kingdom Education” advocates blame the high church dropout rate on secularization of public education, Page was quoted as saying, “The sad thing is that we’re seeing that number of dropouts from church [among] those who went to public school and private school, and that’s an unfortunate trend.”

Page said he had no hard numbers to back up his statement that graduates from private Christian schools are leaving churches nearly as rapidly as others but based it on anecdotal information from this year’s SBC resolutions committee.

“If the public schools don’t work, the secular private schools, or even the Christian private schools, what is left?” Watkins asked rhetorically. She said homeschoolers “need to send a clear message” to Page “that the Southern Baptist homeschooling community exists and is watching.”

Watkins also encouraged homeschoolers to attend upcoming fall meetings of Baptist associations and state conventions and to coordinate SBCHEA fellowships for their area. Already, she said, there are 10 regional “e-groups” set up for networking purposes.

“Fellowship is not the only reason you need to be there,” she advised. “We have Kingdom work for you to do.”

Last year about 30 resolutions supporting “Christ-centered” education were introduced at state conventions, she said, and new sponsors are needed for 2006. Watkins offered help in finding the correct procedure for submitting a resolution, including a sample statement. “This will be a great opportunity to meet your state executive director and staff,” she said.

Despite moving from Texas to Monroe, La., only a couple of months before last year’s state convention, Watkins said she still managed to co-sponsor an education resolution with her pastor. After waiting to see if her resolution would make it out of committee, Watkins was disappointed to find that members of the resolutions committee didn’t bother to show up for a quorum.

She said David Hankins, executive director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention nevertheless “voiced his support and encouraged me to resubmit the resolution again this year.”

Watkins said at least one convention is inviting homeschooling families to be part of its annual meeting. The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, she said, meets Nov. 13-14 at Great Hills Baptist Church in Austin.

Described as “a very homeschool friendly congregation,” the church plans to offer internship opportunities during the meeting for students sixth grade and older.

Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.

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