Proposed Christian school for closed Reading Church | Berks Regional News

READING — A Christian school seeking to open in a large former church is due to make a proposal before the city’s zoning hearing board on Wednesday evening.

Arrows Christian Academy purchased the former St. Mark’s Evangelical and Reformed Church at 211 W. Greenwich St. for $250,000 on Dec. 8, according to city property transfer records.

The new school would have eight classrooms, two offices, an auditorium, a library, and a playground, with a commercial kitchen that would be used as a cafeteria. The church also has a full attic and basement, Arrows Administrator Loren Yoder said.

“You can see the amazing job they did there,” Yoder said, referring to Saint-Marc.

The academy is applying for special exception permission to establish a school in an existing church. The property is in the R-3 residential zoning area.

David Hollenbach, a former member of St Mark’s Presbytery, said the church in the 1960s had the largest membership in Reading, at more than 1,600, and recently celebrated its 129th anniversary. But over the years attendance had dwindled and in recent years there were only 20-25 people per week.

Members voted in November 2020 to end operations and put the building up for sale in February 2021. In July, he held his last services in the building.

The Arrows Christian website says it will open with the 2022-23 school year on August 16 and will be a K-12 building, with an optional preschool.

“God willing,” Yoder said.

Its teaching will be in traditional classrooms, taught by staff and volunteer teachers, with small class sizes, the website says.

He is now enrolling in kindergarten through fifth grade.

In a video on the website, Arrows Christian Academy trustee Kevin Martin says, “Our vision is to provide a Christian school alternative to families living in the city of Reading. We strongly believe that as followers of Jesus, this should impact all areas of our lives.”

Martin says he and his wife taught in the Reading Area School District, “and so we both have kind of first-hand experience with some of the academic struggles that the school district has, but also with some of the difficulties. moral and cultural decline that is also occurring within the public school system, so we welcome the opportunity to offer an alternative to the Christian school.

The website states that the school would be funded by tuition fees as well as an endowment fund and grants. It says tuition will be “well below average for teaching in private schools.”

In another video on the website, Arlen King, principal of Fairview Christian School, a 45-year-old parochial school on 14th Street in the southeast part of Reading, notes that enrollment at the school is at an all-time high. with 150 students.

“And as you can see, the city of Reading is a great city and the needs are great,” King said. “And we are very, very excited about Arrows Christian Academy and its vision to bring even more quality education to the city of Reading.”

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