KC Christian school lost donations after supporting LGBTQ rights. Now it's closing
Published in News & Features
In its nine years of existence, Urban Christian Academy steadily grew, adding a new grade each year in a neglected southeast Kansas City neighborhood.
The school has provided its students, kindergarten through eighth grade, with a tuition-free private education.
And with its “inclusive theology,” it always supported LGBTQ students and staff. But it did so quietly, as issues like same-sex marriage and gay clergy divided Protestant denominations while hate crimes and violence against the LGBTQ community rose.
But last winter, executive director and co-founder Kalie Callaway-George felt the school could no longer keep its LGBTQ support in the shadows.
“I think our community members felt safe within our walls, but we wanted them to feel publicly protected as well. Eventually, it felt like our silence was contributing to the hurt and pain our queer community members were experiencing,” she said in an email to The Star. “We deeply longed for all people to feel welcomed, loved and celebrated not just secretly within our walls but very explicitly to the public as well.”
The school updated its mission statement and website, stating that it affirms LGBTQ rights, and informed the school community of the change in a newsletter. In the following six months, Callaway-George said, the school lost 42% of its funding — donations from churches and congregation members that keep the school running and pay for students’ tuition.
By the end of 2022, the school lost 80% of its funding. And now, officials say the school is forced to close this spring.
“We find ourselves in a season where we are running on very few resources and each time attention is brought to the issue we are bombarded by hate which further distracts from our ability to care for the scholars we have in our care,” Callaway-George said.
The controversy goes to the heart of how Christians define Christianity.
One angry patron wrote the school: “Although we love and admire you in many ways, for your hard work, compassion, commitment, strength, we draw the line at this issue. Christian compassion doesn’t mean universalism. Jesus loved all, but told them, ‘go and sin no more.’ He died so we could be saved, healed, delivered, and set free.”
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