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Child Evangelism Fellowship Resumes Ministry in Providence, Rhode Island

A successful lawsuit allowed the ministry to have access to the public school facilities.

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At this time last year, Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) of Rhode Island was seeking an injunction in federal court so it could host “Good News Clubs” in Providence Public Schools.

Photo courtesy of CEF

Success came in July 2023 when U.S. District Judge Mary McElroy approved a consent decree requiring Providence Public Schools to “provide Child Evangelism Fellowship access to District facilities that is equal to and on the same terms as other similarly situated nonreligious organizations offering programs to students in the District.”

Providence Public Schools is the largest district in the state with 22 elementary schools and over 9,000 students. In October 2023, CEF of Rhode Island started two clubs after the successful lawsuit. Nineteen volunteers are helping to reach 94 students with the Gospel every week, Alan Snow, CEF of Rhode Island state director, told MinistryWatch.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was one Good News Club meeting at an elementary school in Providence, but it was closed down due to the pandemic restrictions.

“The children wanted us to return, the parents wanted us to return, and even the principal wanted us to return,” Snow said. The sponsoring church was also praying that God would allow the club to continue.

Now that the clubs have resumed, 52 children are attending the original Good News Club and a second club at another school has 42 children attending.

“These are the largest Good News Clubs we have in Rhode Island,” Snow noted.

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“For those of us with CEF of Rhode Island and those at the sponsoring church, we praised God for answered prayer!” Snow said of the successful lawsuit. “We were permitted to have a table at the open house at the beginning of the school year at one of the schools, and the interest and enthusiasm was tremendous.”

He added that the Providence Public School District has been very accommodating in helping establish the clubs as required by the court order.

“We are continuing to work with other local churches to establish additional clubs in the district, and pray that eventually we will be able to establish clubs in all 22 schools.”

Liberty Counsel, which represented CEF of Rhode Island in the litigation, called the outcome a “great victory” for the students and parents of the district.

“Public schools cannot discriminate against Christian viewpoints regarding use of school facilities. Child Evangelism Fellowship gives children a biblically based education that includes moral and character development,” Liberty Counsel chairman and founder Mat Staver said in a press statement. “Good News Clubs should be in every public elementary school,”

In the MinistryWatch database, Child Evangelism Fellowship receives a 2-star financial efficiency rating, an “A” transparency grade, and a donor confidence score of 80, meaning donors can give with confidence.

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Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a freelance writer who holds a Juris Doctorate from Baylor University. She has home schooled her three children and is happily married to her husband of 25 years.