A blessing in East St. Louis

Unity school provides Gospel-centered education, reaches unchurched children

By Rev. Kirk Clayton

Southern Illinois District

Second Vice-President

Congregations: As you prepare your budget for 2021, please consider support for Unity Lutheran Christian Elementary School in East St. Louis. Unity Lutheran School was founded as a mission project of the Southern Illinois District (SID) in 2003, and has been a tremendous blessing to the East St. Louis community ever since. Classes started in 2003 with three students, and this year the school has an enrollment of 125 students, ranging from 3-year-old preschool students through eighth grade.

At Unity, 80 percent of students come from unchurched homes, and 90 percent of students are from low-income families. The need for an excellent, Christ-centered education, funded by a broad base of support across the SID, is vital in this community.

Over the years, congregations across the district have included Unity in their annual budgets. This year, about 20 district congregations have designated Unity for regular budgeted giving, and these congregations have provided Unity with about $120,000 in the past year. Congregations have supported Unity in their regular budgets in amounts ranging from $250 to $30,000, and everywhere in between.

Since the school was founded, 70 district congregations have supported Unity in the amount of $500,000. Some congregations give to Unity monthly, some quarterly, some give twice a year and some congregations give annually. Regardless of the frequency, every gift is a great blessing for God’s work in East St. Louis. Unity is very careful in using the donated funds, and students are directly impacted by the financial gifts given to the school. We praise God for this great blessing of generosity, and we ask that your congregation would continue to seek ways to support this important mission outreach in our district!

While COVID-19 has brought many changes at Unity, the central mission continues. Students continue to participate in “Belong to Jesus” Chapel, even if the chairs are spaced a bit farther apart than they usually have been. Children at Unity continue to hear of the tremendous love our Lord Jesus Christ has for them, and the students carry that message of love and grace home to their families as well.

Academic instruction also continues with creative usage of space — indoors and outdoors — to keep required distances between children while still providing a high-quality education. Through its Christ-centered, Gospel-focused education, Unity continues to be a source of hope and peace throughout the East St. Louis community.

This school year, Unity has welcomed Nancy Stallard as its new Development director. Nancy would be happy to visit SID congregations to share the mission and ministry of the school, and give updates on how the Lord’s work at Unity is being done in this unique school year.

“I am excited to be at Unity and see what God is doing through each student and staff member,” Nancy says. “My goal is to tell the many wonderful stories of God’s grace in action here and connect donors and volunteers to the Unity family.”

Please contact Nancy at nstallard@unityesl.org to schedule a visit to your congregation.

Please continue to keep the Lord’s work at Unity Lutheran Christian Elementary School in your prayers, both in your congregation and family. Please also prayerfully consider how you could join the 20 congregations across the district in providing regular, budgeted support to Unity in the coming year.

Donations to Unity can be mailed to the school at 1600 N. 40th Street, East St. Louis, IL 62204; or they can be made electronically by visiting UnityESL.org and clicking the “Donate” button on the top left corner of the homepage.

Thank you in advance for your prayers for — and financial support of — this wonderful mission opportunity in our district!

Pastor Clayton serves as pastor of Zion Lutheran Church, Mascoutah.