GREAT FALLS INTERFAITH ASSOCIATION MINUTES FOR JUNE, 2017
Pastor Ray Larson, Benefis Healthcare
Stephen Boyd, GF Hebrew Association
Udo Wozney, Bethel Lutheran Church
Jim McCormick, Rescue Mission
Cherrie Kelly, Opportunities Inc.
Dusti Zimmer, Center for Mental Health
Shane Etzwiler, GF Chamber of Comerce
David Colpepper, Foothills Cummunity Christian School
Gringer King, Family Connections MT
Rick Allison, Big Sky Baptist Church
Dave Strand, Big Sky Baptist Church
Tamy Lacey, GF Public Schools
Lee Barrows, New City Church
Focus: Great Falls Chamber of Commerce and Foothills Community Christian School
Pastor ray opened with a reading from Deuteronomy and a prayer.
Shane – GF Chamber of Commerce – The Chamber is all about business, creating a great environment where businesses can thrive. There are many employment
issues in Great Falls, one of which is workforce. About a third of employable people in this city are not working.
An apprenticeship program in Great Falls gives a $750 tax credit to all businesses who hire through the program every year up to five years if the employee
Also, there is a program that helps adjust military who are getting ready to retire, for 180 days the military will pay the salaries; completely free to
The Ad Banquet gave eight scholarships to students last year. Graduation Matters, because the kids’ future and the future of Great Falls matters.
The military is planning to upgrade the missiles on all three bases starting in 2023. If the companies tell us what kind of jobs they need in six years,
the Chamber can relate the information to graduating students now to so that Great Falls has many eligible employees in 2023.
Tami – GF School District – ESA (Every Student Succeeds) replaces NCLB (No Child Left Behind) because the program wasn’t succeeding. The purpose is to
ensure Montana Schools are achieving Federal Standards. ESA provides more flexibility, allows for more local control. Great Falls gets Federal dollars
to help At-Risk students. There is accountability, they have to account for every dollar spent. The long-term goal is still the same, 100% student proficiency.
“Adulting” is something they are looking at, whether it’s a class or some kind of course to teach kids how to be an adult, show up for meetings, be on
time, make phone calls, reach goals, etc. This message isn’t being taught at home anymore, but is vital to student’s ultimate success.
Many of the most challenging schools are on Reservations where extreme poverty and lack of work opportunities prevail.
David – Foothills Christian School – David has been involved in Christian schools for 34 years. The goal and purpose of the school is to provide Christ-centered
education to Christian families. They try to establish good biblical moral foundations with which to build on.
The English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge who wrote The Rime of The Ancient Mariner was involved in a discussion about religion. The other person believed
that children should not be given formal religious education of any kind. They would then be free to select their own religion when they were old
enough to decide. Coleridge did not bother to debate the point, but invited the man to see his rather neglected garden. “Do you call this a garden?” asked
the visitor. “There are nothing but weeds here.” “Well, you see,” said Coleridge, “I did not wish to infringe on the liberty of the garden in any way. I
was just giving the garden a chance to express itself and choose its own production.”
They emphasize exceptional academics, service to others, and strong moral character. In Great Falls, there is a common goal that our children deserve the
very best education. They are accredited by Advanced Ed and the Association of Christian Schools International. They feel they have succeeded if they create
responsible church members. Not isolating them from the world, but providing a “greenhouse” of sorts to give them a better start.
Pastor Ray adjourned the meeting. Next one is July 27th at 12pm.
Submitted by Stephen Boyd