For those among us who are not familiar with or connected to the Keystone Christian Education Association (KCEA is a fellowship of churches and Christian schools which hold to the historical, Biblical faith better known as Christina fundamentalism), you need to know about several cases have been in the Pennsylvania courts which may affect the children’s ministries of every church in the state. Fifteen years ago, the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) brought a case against a Catholic church by the name of St. Elizabeth in Allentown. The church had a pre-school/daycare ministry, and the DPW threatened to close the ministry if the church did not comply with state child care policies. Shortly thereafter, the DPW took similar action against several other church ministries, some of which were KCEA members. To make a long story short, the case against St. Elizabeth has been the point case, which will set court precedent for all of the other cases. The case has gone to the highest levels of state courts, and the last step did not favor the church ministries. Suffice it to say that the courts did not consider the state’s case to encroach on First Amendment rights. The St. Elizabeth case has been appealed to the State Supreme Court and is awaiting their action.
DPW is moving to enact policies already drafted which will mandate children’s workers to have state-approved education/training to work in children’s ministries. Currently (as of Friday morning, July 23), the policies are open for public comment until Monday, July 26. Also, the state has defined a “core body of knowledge”, a standard for teaching and learning. The standard includes education concerning diversities which are opposed to the doctrinal/philosophical positions of churches. Churches would be required to follow such policies in order to be licensed. Without licensing, a church would be prevented from ministry to children. Licensure would still radically diminish children’s ministries.
These policies will not face a vote on the state House and Senate floors. The policies are drafted and enforced strictly by department authority. For this reason, you may not have heard of the St. Elizabeth’s case and others like it along with the issues that are at stake. At the bottom of the page, you may download documents pertaining to this matter.
Members of the HAPF stand doctrinally and philosophically against the DPW’s position, but the DPW needs to know this. In order to voice your disapproval of DPW policy, please contact Pastor Matt Jury of Grace Bible chapel in York Springs. The phone number is 717 528 4536 (leave a message with your name and church). Email is pastorATgbcministryDOTcom (replace the AT and DOT with @ and .) KCEA needs to know HAPF’s consensus concerning this matter before Monday morning, when they meet to oppose the state’s actions. Please contact Pastor Jury ASAP.
We as the fellowship need to stand with KCEA against government intrusion into our churches. If we do not act, we cannot cry ‘foul’ when the state encroaches upon our ministries and doctrinal positions.
Core Body of Knowledge — actual policy under consideration
NAEYC Standards for Early Childhood Prof. Prep. Programs — professional standards on which core body was created
NAEYC – Anti-Bias Education— professional standards on which core body was created