A Houston school district recently honored a Baptist pastor in large part for his support of a pastoral letter supporting public education issued this spring by the Baptist Center for Ethics.

Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District presented Ed Hogan, senior pastor at Jersey Village Baptist Church, with its “Friend of Education” award in a “Wall of Fame” ceremony in late September.

Superintendent David Anthony lauded Hogan’s commitment to schools evident not only in personal involvement but also by “taking a stand for the public education of all students, even those beyond the borders of this community.”

Hogan has served on several district committees and volunteered in his children’s schools. His wife, Marion, teaches at Labay Middle School. Their two children attend Jersey Village High School.

In April Hogan was one of a number of Baptist ministers calling for Baptists to “speak positively about public education and to take proactive initiatives that advance a constructive future for America’s public school system.”

The initiative was in response to voices in the Southern Baptist Convention calling for Christians to develop an “exit strategy” from public schools.

“The letter was not what I would characterize as a ‘mild’ letter of support of public education,” Anthony said in comments provided to Ethicsdaily.com. The letter read in part, “We urge a halt to the demonization of public schools.” Signers pledged to take a number of steps, including to:

–Pray for public schools;
–Show support for public schools through worship services that affirm all school-related personnel;
–Pursue a just society that benefits every child; and
–Speak up for the role public education plays in democracy, especially the unity it creates in the midst of diversity so necessary in our society.

“I can assure you Ed has kept this pledge,” Anthony said. “His behaviors from the pulpit and in the community are consistent with his stated beliefs about our schools.”

“Ed recognizes student success in our schools on a regular basis at Jersey Village Baptist Church,” Anthony said. “He recognizes faculty and staff members and openly prays for and praises our district.”

“Certainly, were it not for the great respect that he has as a man of God, a father, husband and community member, his actions might be questioned by members of his church (and they probably are),” the superintendent continued. “Yet, he continues to proclaim and openly take a stance for his faith, his family and a quality education for all children.”

The Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District is one of the fastest-growing in the nation. Once a small rural district, it is now the second largest in Texas, with 86,000 students, 67 campuses and 11,180 employees.

“At a time when Southern Baptist fundamentalists wrongfully criticize public schools as the enemies of God, Ed Hogan spoke up for the goodness of public education and showed his commitment in concrete actions intended to foster great schools,” said Robert Parham, executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics.

“I am thankful that the second largest school district in Texas recognized Ed and acknowledged the value of our pro-active pastoral initiative,” said Parham. “All across the country goodwill Baptist clergy are working to support public education.”

Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.

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