CLCA was formed solely for the purpose of bringing the off campus Released Time Bible Education program to the Augusta area public school students. We are a non-profit Christian organization whose Board of Directors consists of local Christians from different denominations.
Christian Learning Centers of Augusta (CLCA) enables volunteers, donors and advocates to provide off-campus Bible education for public school students. CLCA teachers and curriculum seek to strengthen family relations, wholesome friendships, a good work ethic, and strong study habits.
Across the ‘country’, teachers are not allowed to instruct children in the Bible because of laws which prohibit such instruction. The result of this is seen every day in America:
- 92% of children receive no Bible instruction from a parent.
- 49% of children are not part of a local church family.
- 47% of children have never heard any Scripture.
RTBE helps to fill in these gaps by legally teaching the Bible to public school children during normal school hours.
What is RTBE?
RTBE is a time set aside during the school day when students with parental permission may leave the school to attend off-campus Bible education. Classes are held at a nearby church or non-school building. RTBE is the only means by which Christian education is legally allowed during the school day. Therefore, RTBE recognizes and reinforces the constitutionally protected rights of parents to direct the religious upbringing of their children.
Our Children Need
Safe venues where they can ask deep, challenging and sensitive questions without fear of censure. Purpose and meaning in life beyond the accumulation of wealth or the cultivation of status. Bible education that prepares them to be responsible and godly adults, caring and contributing community citizens.
RTBE brings the Bible to a segment of our population that is generally not part of the local church family. Through this program, children are made aware of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, and find their way into the local ‘church’, being drawn by the Holy Spirit.
Legality of Released Time
In 1952 a New York Released Time program was challenged. The NY Court upheld the program and the decision was appealed to the United States Supreme Court. In the famous Zorach V. Clauson decision, Justice William O. Douglas, speaking for the majority, concluded that while the first amendment prohibits governmental financing of religion or religious instruction, it does not require the government to be hostile toward religion.
In the same decision, the Supreme Court said that Released Time is good and an important First Amendment liberty. The Supreme Court has continued to uphold Released Time as a legal use of the First Amendment. The court added that the public school was to accommodate religious instruction during the school day. The court said that not allowing Released Time would be the same as:
…to find in the constitution a requirement that the government show a callous indifference to religious groups. That would be preferring those who believe in no religion over those who do believe. We find no constitutional requirement which makes it necessary for government to be hostile to religion and to throw its weight against efforts to widen the effective scope of religious influence.
Because of the Supreme Court decision in 1952, Released Time is not a violation of separation of church and state as some continue to argue, but rather is legal and constitutional in all 50 states.The Supreme Court has repeated this idea that the state should have an accommodating, and not a hostile, attitude toward religious groups in other decisions.
We believe that the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, is the true Word of God, and is the sole rule of faith and practice.
We believe in one God, eternally existent in three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, who, as the Creator and Sustainer of the universe and all that is therein, is alone the rightful determiner of when life begins and ends.
We believe He has established the family, with lifelong marriage between one man and one woman, as the foundation for a strong and lasting society.
We believe Jesus Christ, who being God became flesh, was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.
We believe that He suffered, died, and rose bodily from the dead, atoning for the sins of mankind by His shed blood on the cross.
We believe that He will return to judge the living and the dead. And we believe in salvation by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone and His completed work on the cross – not human actions, the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, and the life everlasting.
Our Board of Directors
- Mary Leigh Harbin, Chair
- Dr. David Miller, Vice Chair
- Katherine C. Schafer, Secretary
- Russ Larkin, CPA, Treasurer
- Beth Storey
- Pastor Richard Herring
- Helen Partridge, Advisory Board Member
- Charles W. Hock, III, Board Member Emeritus
- Laura Garner, Executive Director
History of CLC of Augusta
After some years of talking with pastors, businessmen and the public to determine interest, in 2001, CLCA became official, incorporating as a non-profit, tax-exempt organization in the state of Georgia.
All Board members are local citizens who come from different backgrounds and denominations to assure that only biblical principles are taught, and no one church’s doctrine. May 7, 2002 saw the first meeting of the CLCA Board of Directors.
Approval for the Pilot Program to begin right away for the 4th & 5th grades of John Milledge Elementary School was granted by the Richmond County School Board in January 2003. This continued throughout the 2003-2004 school year, with well-qualified, Christian teachers, who have a heart for Christ and the children, and backgrounds in both public school and/or church education.
Classes were 45 minutes once a week and held in Crawford Avenue Baptist Church, which has graciously offered the use of their facility.
Time was spent in memory verses and Bible stories, along with games and songs to reinforce the lessons learned. When the number of students increased other classes were added. Each class had a Lead Teacher, Teaching Assistant and a Teaching Aide to help teach the students.
In June 2004, the Richmond County Board of Education voted to accept our plans to begin expansion of the RT Programs. This was due, in no small part, to the grace of God to allow this program to grow throughout our community.
In the 2004-2005 academic year our program for the students at John Millege Elementary School became an on-going program and a Pilot Program for the students of Monte Sano Elementary School began. Enrollment went from 31 students to 106. Our corps of volunteers working in the classrooms also grew, totaling 32.
In the 2005-2006 academic year the School Board approved our plans to conduct another Pilot Program for the students of Glenn Hills Elementary School. Our student enrollment continued to climb, totaling more than 150.
The 2006-2007 year saw the addition of Sue Reynolds and the following year we added Copeland and Warren Road Elementary Schools.
We are currently concentrating on 3rd, 4th and 5th graders in public schools in Augusta, Georgia (Richmond County). Prior to the pandemic, CLCA provided Bible education classes weekly to almost 1000 students from 9 elementary schools and one middle school. As of 2023, we are still building back and serving 7 elementary schools. We anticipate an enrollment of almost 700 students during the school day each week during 2023-2024. In God’s timing, perhaps CLCA can cover the public schools of Richmond, Columbia, and Burke Counties.
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!'” Isaiah 6:8