In December, Champlin United Methodist Church (CUMC) hosted an event to honor students at Crossroads West for their academic
accomplishments. The church and school work together as part of the Anoka-Hennepin School District, Faith, and Community Partnership. The event began at 8 in the morning, but Crossroads’ student Luke Larson thought it began at 8 in the evening. This misunderstanding had a wonderful consequence for Larson.
When Larson arrived at the church that evening, he found Julia Brown. The church’s associate director of worship, Brown also teaches piano lessons at the church. Brown and Larson began talking. When Brown learned Larson had taken piano lessons during middle school but had to quit because of his mother’s work schedule and it was his dream to take lessons again, she offered to provide him lessons free of charge.
“It was perfect timing,” said Brown who taught her first piano lesson in 1976 and has been teaching in Minnesota since the mid-’90s. “I always have a couple of scholarship students and one of my students had left for college. I welcomed the opportunity to work with Luke.”
CUMC has been an important player in the work of the Anoka-Hennepin School District, Faith, and Community Partnership. Focused on meeting students’ basic needs, such as food, hygiene products and clothing, CUMC has worked with other churches, business organizations, individuals, and the Champlin Library in an effort they call “Better Together.” Brown said a music group even sponsored a student in the Teen Pregnancy Program.
“By coming together we’ve been able to meet every request of the Hennepin schools in the Anoka-Hennepin School District; schools keep telling us that it is so nice to have a faith partner to call when there is a special need,” Brown said. “Requests have expanded beyond school supplies and winter outerwear, to furniture and an honor’s brunch for the students of Crossroads West. Now I am working with Luke. Who knows what other ways we can let the children, youth and families of our community know we care about them?”
Brown said Larson is enjoyable to work with and she is glad for the opportunity to assist him in reaching for his dreams.
Larson said his reaction to Brown’s offer of free lessons was, “are you for real?” He was happy he was able to pick up at the level of skill where he left off because he is considering studying music in college. Working with Brown has helped him to brush up on his technical skills.
“Taking lessons from Julia has been really cool,” Larson said. “Without the church’s work with Crossroads West this would have never happened.”
The Anoka-Hennepin School District, Faith, and Community Partnership is a collaborative effort of the Anoka-Hennepin School District, faith based organizations and broader communities to raise an awareness and understanding of compelling community issues and to mobilize people to help meet the basic needs of students. It provides immediate response to those in need and offers specific suggestions for those who want to help.