In a unanimous vote, the Public Schools Board of Petoskey, Mich., decided to put a temporary halt to allowing a Christian organization to make its services available to students during the lunch hour.
Young Life, an adolescent-centered ministry organization, will be barred from schools in Petoskey while the school board creates a policy on the level of access to students an organization unaffiliated with the school system can have.
In an interview with The Christian Post, Terry Swenson, vice president of communications for Young Life, said that they accept the board’s decision.
“Young Life respects the decision of the Petoskey School Board regarding the suspension of access to school grounds for religious groups,” said Swenson.
“We are grateful for the support that has been voiced by many in the community about the positive role Young Life leaders and programs have in kids' lives, and we will cooperate with school officials in any way they wish as they review their school access policy.”
Dr. John P. Scholten, the superintendent of Petoskey Public Schools, explained to The Christian Post that the issue is being taken “through the pens of policy” regarding “access to our students“ rather than a matter of church and state separation.
“I am not aware of any violations of church and state,” said Scholten. “We’ve got to respect those boundaries and they understand that.”
Scholten said public schools in Petoskey currently allow youth ministers to visit during the lunch hour to talk with students belonging to their congregations as well as church volunteers who conduct one-on-one tutoring sessions with students after school.
He also noted that there are parents who are interested in beginning a Young Life chapter for their school system and that a “good working relationship” is being carefully maintained.
“It’s more of a stay-tuned thing,” said Scholten.
Young Life is a nationwide organization founded in 1941 whose goal is to evangelize adolescents. Chapters of the organization exist in over 3,000 schools.