Leading up to our Centennial Sunday on March 28, I set out to capture the history of All Souls in 5 minutes or less! The video presentation was shared during that historic service, 100 years to the day of the founding of our church.
Coming in at 6 min and 45 seconds, I was able to include some of the highlights, the joys, good times, and impacts the people of All Souls have had on Tulsa over the last 100 years. As you can imagine, I learned a lot! Consider me a walking history book and perfect teammate for an All Souls Trivia night!
One thing I learned, was our beloved and impactful Partners in Education program was originally formed as the Children’s Advocacy Team under the leadership of Rev. Brett Smith.
Here are a few other tidbits of the founding of one of our longest-standing justice ministries, serving children, faculty, and families at our Partner Schools.
The Creation of the Children’s Advocacy Team
James Donovan, who was on the Board of Trustees and was Program Chair, created a group to discuss concerns about children in Tulsa. The group identified many areas of interest, including volunteering in a housing project, teaching parenting skills at the Parent Child Center, public schools, children in court setting, and child hunger.
In recognition of the group’s varied interests, Josie Goodman suggested the name “Children’s Advocacy Team.”
Members at that first meeting were James Donovan, Nancy Banks, Rev. Brent Smith, Laura Collins, Carol Burleigh, Bunny Smith, Jack Neely, Sue Ames, Josie Goodman, Earl Goodman, and Stephanie Peterson, who was drafted by James Donovan to be the group leader.
Among the group’s major accomplishments was the adoption of Jackson Elementary School (now Unity) in 1988, under the guidance of Earl Goodman.
“When All Souls adopted Jackson (now Unity) it was on the States under achievement roll. It was very pleasing to see the school improve and be taken off that list.”—Earl Goodman
All Souls paid for teachers to attend a training program at Northeastern University, and volunteers served as substitutes so the teachers could attend. As a result, Jackson was removed from the list of underachieving schools.
Impact on Our Partner School
CAT provided volunteers for classrooms and for special activities after school. Volunteers painted a map on the playground with states and capitols labeled, and developed an accompanying learning guide. Other projects included music and drama, swimming, improved grounds for sports activities, reading buddies, lunch time buddies, and tutors (sometimes more than they could handle). Notably, All Souls member George Hangs donated $1000 and the All Souls Book Table donated $500 to start Jackson’s new foundation.
All Souls was the first church in Tulsa to adopt a school, and had to help Tulsa Public Schools develop regulations to restrict overt proselytizing, etc., because they knew that after All Souls, other churches would be coming on board. At that time, the TPS Adopt-a-School program was called Partners in Education, as it continues to be called to this day.
In addition to the Jackson adoption, CAT operated CASA, whose volunteers accompanied minors in court; an environmental and sustainability group coordinated by Sheila Swearingen and Betty Morrow; and other children’s advocacy projects.
Partners in Education
The adopted school segment of CAT became All Souls Partners in Education with lay leaders such as Nancy McDonald and countless volunteers over the years. The relationship with Unity Learning Academy (formerly Jackson) continues. Eighteen years ago, PIE expanded its reach to serve John Hope Franklin Elementary (formerly Gilcrease Elementary) and most recently, Monroe Demonstration Academy.