The Upper Room

High school students walk by Chris Brown’s church every day on their way to and from school. Most of them don’t think of it as a place to stop in or to visit with friends. But that’s something Chris wants to change.

“We want it to be known that Christians are there for students in our communities who have real issues and real needs,” Chris, who is a co-pastor at The Upper Room church in Pittsburgh, said.

In an effort to be more than a building that students walk by, The Upper Room has partnered with Young Life to host an after school program that will seek to build relationships with students through tutoring and mentoring.

“As the pastor of a missional church, Chris and his co-pastor Michael have a vision for reaching out to their neighbors,” Charity Haubrich, director of Christians Investing in Education, said.

“They understand that Christians are citizens in a political community with a responsibility to seek restorative justice solutions within our education system so that every child can flourish.”

Chris, who also works part time as the coordinator of the church planting emphasis at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, has always appreciated the importance of education. Two high school English teachers had a big impact on him, and the positive effects they had on their students inspired him. He entered college with plans to become a teacher himself, but later felt a call to ministry instead. However, he learned that it’s not only teachers that should be passionate about creating a flourishing education system.

“When my wife was pregnant and about to have our first child, I started asking questions about where my daughter would be educated,” he said.

Around that time a friend also expressed frustration at the lack of special needs assistance his daughter was receiving at her high school. With both personal ties to education and a sense of the church’s vital role in the lives of kids in the community, he knew that he wanted to get his congregation involved.

“Churches can provide a biblical view of justice in education and call their members to apply those principles as they engage in their neighborhood schools and with school board members and state officials,” Haubrich said.

For Chris, the first step was gathering a group from his congregation to engage with Christians Investing in Education materials and to collaborate on ways to better participate.

“We’re a church that is still committed to seeking the wellbeing of our communities and peace, justice and fullness of life for everyone in the community,” he said. 

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