On a stormy October 9th, 200 guests gathered at the Crest Hollow Country Club for SCS’ 7th Annual Accelerate Banquet. However, the bad weather outside did not disrupt the spirit of expectation inside, as guests mixed and mingled while waiting to hear this year’s speaker and guest of honor, Jay Sekulow, President of the American Center for Law and Justice.
The program opened with remarks from Pastor Mike Jankowski of Lamb’s Chapel in Center Moriches, the church whose lawsuit propelled Jay Sekulow into the national fight to maintain religious liberty. In the early 1990’s, Lamb’s Chapel was denied access to their local public school for a faith-based video series they were offering to the public. Instead of settling for the denial, they worked with attorney Jay Sekulow to bring a lawsuit against the district which eventually went all the way to the Supreme Court. In a huge victory for religious freedom and freedom of speech, Jay won the case for Lamb’s Chapel, and today, the church continues to thrive and impact their community. Pastor Jankowski and an entire table of leaders from Lamb’s Chapel provided a great backdrop for understanding the critical importance of his work.
As Jay Sekulow was speaking, the room was riveted to every word. Jay is a dynamic, thoughtful, and extremely knowledgeable leader, and the stories he told all wove a common thread around the theme of Christians having influence in the cultural battles of our day. His work, which spans decades, has moved him onto the front lines of the battles for Biblical marriage and sexuality, religious freedom, and other important issues. He is also a strong advocate of Christian schooling and has made a great case for supporting SCS. After speaking, Jay answered questions in a Q & A session, moderated by local attorney Kim DeLorenz. The crowd was highly engaged as he answered tough questions and offered his analysis of the crowded field of Republican presidential candidates.
The evening culminated with a request for individuals to financially support the work of Smithtown Christian School. Just under $110,000 was raised, with $75,000 going to support the budget and $35,000 going directly to increase faculty and staff salaries through the school’s brand new Mission 200 Circle. The Circle is designed to recruit individuals and organizations to commit $200 per month for the specific purpose of raising teacher and staff salaries. With the average salary of an SCS teacher being only $37,000 per year, it is hard to attract and retain great teachers. This year’s banquet provided a great jump-start for addressing this problem.
Plans are underway for Accelerate 2016, and we’re excited to see how God will continue to raise funds to support the mission of Smithtown Christian School.