Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Church hosts school as new classroom space is finished


When Rev. Josue Araujo introduced himself to the principal of Santa Fe South Hills Elementary School to ask whether OKC-Lambuth could be of service, he didn’t expect that the church would be hosting young students in its building soon after.

“It was just like a divine alignment happening,” said Principal Carma Barlow.

The school had anticipated a new building space would be available before fall classes started, however, the space intended for their students was not ready in time. The choice was made for the elementary students to attend night school using the spaces finished for the middle and high school students, but there was still a need for younger students to have somewhere to be during the day. There was also a need for teachers and administrators to have office space for lesson preparation and meetings.

When he first approached the school, Araujo thought he would be able to offer to pick up trash around the school grounds once a week.

“I did what every pastor should do, which is walk across the street,” Araujo said. “We are church, and there’s something we can be doing in our community, to partner, to build strong partnerships to be there for one another.”

One way OKC-Lambuth helped build a relationship with the students and teachers was to donate 100 backpacks filled with school supplies as part of their centennial celebration as a church. Barlow believes the church’s efforts and overall welcome has helped create a strong bond between the school and the congregation.

“I think it has gone a long way in breathing life in teachers, especially, I think, with the pandemic and this weird transition and schedule that is very hard for my team,” Barlow said. “I think all of the kindness that the church has shown us and donating the 100 backpacks for our students—all of those things make my teachers feel seen, and that their work matters. I think that goes a long way in creating a strong relationship.”


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