Word of Life: A Diverse and Thriving School
Word of Life has been a beacon of light in the south St. Louis neighborhood since 1973. Sustaining a school over so many decades in a neighborhood that is constantly changing is no small feat, yet Word of Life has a rich, diverse, and growing student body with over 200 students across three campuses.
Word of Life has several church partnerships, and they are intentional in cultivating a welcoming environment for people from all walks of life. It’s more than simply a reflection of their neighborhood. They have worked hard to build an identity as described in Revelation 7:9 - After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands. Joel Akridge, Word of Life’s Marketing and Admissions Director, notes that many families drive from “a variety of areas of St. Louis from the more affluent neighborhoods to lower income. They send their children to us, some quite a few miles away, because they desire a high quality education that is in a loving, nurturing, and diverse environment.”
One of the ways they do this is through their relationship with Christian Friends of New Americans, who serve refugee and new-to-America families. They work closely together, as CFNA Executive Director Rev. Dr. Stanley Stanish explains, “CFNA is grateful for its mission partnership with Word of Life Lutheran School because it facilitates the on-going Christ-centered growth and development of the 1.5 and 2nd generation New Americans (refugees & immigrants) with whom CFNA connects in St. Louis. By impacting this next generation of New Americans with the love and message of Jesus, Word of Life is contributing to Kingdom building while providing quality academic education to our new neighbors.”
Word of Life not only looks around for ways to include their neighbors, but most importantly, they look to God. “From staff to students there is an expectation that Jesus’ love is our focus and everything else flows from it,” says Akridge, “The love of Jesus flows through everything we do and you can sense it from the classroom to the gym and it is something that can’t be faked or manufactured. The spirit, the mission, within the halls is real. It is simply from the mission of the love of Jesus and a staff who is committed to not only sharing that love, but demonstrating it…”