RELEASED TIME CHRISTIAN EDUCATION IS A MINISTRY TO THE CHILDREN IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS OF SANTA ANA.
Each weekday teachers go to the public schools and teach a Bible Class of up to 32 students who have chosen to attend during the students’ lunch hour. Since we are not legally allowed to teach the Bible on campus we use buses and trailers converted into classrooms. Each vehicle is driven or towed to the school site, and parked just off the campus for each day’s classes.
The idea of releasing public school students for devotional religious study off school premises in the United States was first discussed at a conference in New York City in 1905.
The proposal was that public elementary schools should be closed one day a week in addition to Sunday so those parents who desired could have their children attend religious instruction outside of the school building.
However, it was not until 1914 that Dr. William Wirt, an innovative educator and superintendent of the Gary, Indiana schools, established a program in which 619 students participated in off-campus religious education.
Dr. Wirt believed that the church, home, playground, library, and school were all components in a child’s education. The public school, however, had and still has no responsibility for teachers, curriculum, conduct, or achievement within the classes. Released Time grew and flourished resulting in over 1,000 affiliate programs estimated to be in function today, involving over 250,000 students in kindergarten through high school.