syn·​er·​gy   ˈsi-nər-jē: the interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements, contributions, etc.; synergism.

That’s the definition gives, but as the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. At V. Lindsay Seventh-day Adventist Elementary School in Kansas City, Kansas, synergy is a living reality in the collaborative and supportive relationship between local pastors and school staff. 

Pastors Joseph Ikner, Greg Fontus, Pedro Vargas and Gary Collins (who just recently joined the KC team) are the pastors of the Kansas City metro area Central States’ churches. Though they could be satisfied that their churches faithfully send monthly financial support, they willingly go the extra mile to give of their time and talents to the school’s program.

Ikner, pastor of the Linwood Boulevard Seventh-day Adventist Temple, is the area pastor with the longest relationship with V. Lindsay. His enthusiasm and passion to foster a thriving school spring from his own experience with Christian Education, which he shared with Central States and Kansas-Nebraska educators at the August 2021 Teachers Convention. A child whose mother was a member of the Holiness church and whose father was Baptist, he did not initially grow up in the Adventist faith. However, during his elementary and middle school years through two years of high school, he attended an Adventist school—Ramah Jr. Academy in Cleveland, Ohio, which he says changed the trajectory of his life. After majoring in theology at Andrews University, he entered the gospel ministry. Before his father’s death, Pastor Ikner experienced the joy of seeing both his parents become members of the Adventist faith. He and his wife, Nordia, are now the pastor and First Lady at Linwood, and he also serves as the ministerial director for Central States Conference. 

Throughout the 2021-2022 school year, Pastor Ikner led V. Lindsay’s school board in the effort to look at all aspects of the school program and create a comprehensive five-year strategic plan. The planning committee faithfully met monthly, despite the challenges and disruptions of COVID. V. Lindsay’s strategic plan was completed in time to present it to the school’s constituency in April.

When Dollars for Scholars was announced (an initiative to celebrate a conference-wide Education Day, boost Central States’ scholarship matching monies and bless our schools with funds) Pastor Ikner’s church was the very first to respond to the call. The congregation’s generosity was a much-appreciated blessing on top of their previous assistance when the school was unfortunately burglarized last school year.

Linwood not only opened its hearts but its doors to the school for an education emphasis Sabbath in the fall, when the children sang praises to God in music ministry, and Judge Kevin Harrell presented the morning message. 

Ikner and Fontus have also assisted V. Lindsay in a special online project called Faith Talk Fridays–God Loves Me: 28 Ways. Student hosts Jada Harlin and Isaiah Lewis have been sharing the 28 fundamental doctrines of the Adventist Church with other children. Both pastors have contributed to the online discussion during the Facebook Live events.

Prayers and words of encouragement have been offered to educators when they, students or their family members have been ill or when trying circumstances arise. Additionally, all pastors take time to be present and lend their counsel at school board meetings.

We’re so thankful for this dynamic pastoral/educator synergy that, combined with God’s blessing and provision, provides scholars an atmosphere of academic support and spiritual care.

Written by Joann M. Herrington, superintendent of education for the Central States Conference.