January 20, 2023

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” – Mark 12:30

The Gospel of Mark 12:31 reads, “The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

There are so many ways where we can reach out and love thy neighbor. I think about these verses as St Luke’s starts up the Reading Buddies programs with two elementary schools, where we’ve created partnerships through reading to children in Edmond and Oklahoma City. I think it’s an incredible way to serve our community and love our neighbors.

Did you know that children who read twenty minutes a day are exposed to 1.8 million words a school year and will score in the 90th percentile on standardized tests? A child who only reads five minutes a day is exposed to 282,000 words a school year and scores in the 50th percentile on standardized tests.

As you can see, there are many benefits for children who are part of our Reading Buddies program. Being a Reading Buddy mentor can have a profound impact on a child’s life, especially when their home life isn’t ideal. According to the United Way’s ReadingPal program, it builds impactful relationships between students and volunteers; helps students build strong social-emotional foundations through self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. A corresponding article I read on KidsKonnect stated that reading stimulates and enhances children’s imaginations as well as creativity and empathy for others.

My daughters love to read books. In fact, they both asked Santa for all kinds of novels this year. They have read for 20 minutes a night for as long as I can remember. I have seen a dramatic improvement in their schoolwork. Every night they choose who they’d like to read to. Thanks to FaceTime, they can read to anyone, anywhere! Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case for children in other households. This is why my heart feels so strongly about this program. If you can make a difference somewhere, why not start with a child?

The Gospel of Mark makes is clear, we are to love God and we are to love all. It takes a little time and a little effort, but we can make a difference in the lives of our neighbors. This is what love does and I am grateful our family of faith is hard at work sharing God’s love in this way.

– Jamie Williamson, Edmond Campus Director of Administration