"Blessings & Baptisms"
While COVID-19 has seemed to slow or delay progress for many areas of life, St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Des Peres actually saw a great increase in student enrollment, a growth which has led to an amazing blessing of a substantial rise in baptisms and confirmations. Of St. Paul’s 188 students enrolled for the 2020-2021 year (in the K-8 program), 54 students were from new families. Johanna Hoeltge, who serves in marketing and admissions for St. Paul’s Lutheran School, notes that while the pandemic was the biggest instigator of new student inquiries, there were a few factors that contributed to the enrollment change. One of these includes the state-of-the-art new building expansion for the school which houses a brand new science and STEM lab, media center, library, art studio, and more. “I think that it was kind of a perfect storm for us,” explains Hoeltge, “that we had this brand new gorgeous facility and that we were coming back in-person [for classes] which was a rarity in the area. And that we provide such a solid, Christian education. We’ve been around 171 years... so I think that families trusted coming here knowing that they would get a really good education.”
Rev. Tanner Wade baptizing a St. Paul student.
Rev. Tanner Wade, assistant pastor at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, points out that the new families to the school were a mix of those that had a church home, those who were currently unchurched, and those that had no Christian background at all. “Once they came in the doors, the children were so enthusiastic.” Hoeltge expounds, “Some of them just haven’t even heard of Jesus or opened the Bible. So the level of curiosity and excitement about learning these great things– they would bring that home to the parents.”
The significance of a Lutheran education is clear. “Truly I cannot be more blown away by the efforts of these teachers,” states Wade, “The teachers are the day to day interaction in the classroom; they have hours with these students. And teaching them the love of Christ and using that throughout all kinds of subject matters– God’s Word works.” And what a blessing sowing those seeds of faith has seen. St. Paul’s has welcomed 13 unchurched families via baptism and adult confirmation, with more student baptisms on the way.