NJHSA - WHO WE ARE
The North Jersey Home Schoolers Association, Inc (NJHSA) is a Christian organization of local home school support groups (LSGs). NJHSA exists for the purpose of providing encouragement, support and aid to home schooling families in the northern counties of New Jersey; providing an environment in which Christ-centered education may flourish; promoting home education; and laboring to secure the God-given right and responsibility of parents to direct the education of their children. NJHSA defines home schooling as parents directing the education of their own children from home as a base, using whatever means, methods and resources they deem appropriate, but not including full-time enrollment in a day institution. Membership in NJHSA is open to all families, regardless of religious beliefs, who: (i) are actively home schooling their children; (ii) have paid NJHSA dues for the current academic year; and (iii) are members of a Local Support Group. The members of the Board, each member of the LSG leadership team, and other individuals in leadership positions attest to certain core beliefs by signing NJHSA's Statement of Faith. We seek to ensure that our practices, activities and events will not conflict with a Christian world and life view, including the primacy of the family in God’s plan.
Parents have a God-given responsibility to provide the best possible education for each of their children. Deuteronomy 6:6,7 speaks to our God-given mandate to educate your children. “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
Parents have a constitutional right to provide the best possible education for each of their children. Thankfully we live in a country where our constitutional right aligns with our God-given duty. Matthew 21:21, “’Caesar's,’ they replied. Then he said to them, ‘Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's.’" From this we acknowledge that while it is good and proper for us to pay our federal, state, and even local taxes to support public schools – fo rthey belong to Caesar, your children are created in the image of God, and therefore you must give your children to God, not the public schools. Your child’s birth certificate gives you the right, authority, and qualifications to teach your child. Each home schooling family is encouraged to formulate its own educational philosophy and curriculum, by a process that includes prayer, research, investigation, and interaction with other home schooling families. NJHSA does not endorse any particular view on home schooling for curricula or teaching methods. Neither does NJHSA provide curricula or services, such as testing or record keeping, for its members.
The purpose of NJHSA is to provide support through disseminating information, furnishing means of contact with other home schooling families, and sponsoring various activities and events to enhance the home school experience.
We believe it is best for the family to be together whenever possible and therefore many of the events and activities sponsored by NJHSA encourage the attendance and participation of the entire family. Exceptions to this would include age-appropriate field trips, parents’ support meetings and the like.
We recognize that we need to diligently participate in the political process of our nation and state to safeguard your right to educate your children at home. We will strive to provide information on legislative actions affecting home schooling and encourage the membership to lobby legislators through letters, calls, demonstrations (lawful and peaceful) and whatever lawful means that may present themselves.
To enrich our members’ home schooling experience and to strengthen the home school movement, we encourage interaction with other regional support groups. We also encourage members’ participation and attendance at any statewide home schooling events.
To preserve the reputation of NJHSA, and the home school movement, care should be exercised when using the name of the North Jersey Home Schoolers Association, Inc., not to associate it with causes or events that are not directly sponsored by or specifically supported by NJHSA. Individuals, in expressing their personal opinions, should not presume to speak for NJHSA or its members.
The conduct of children and youth, involved in NJHSA events and activities, should enhance the image of home
schooling. Parents or chaperones will be held accountable for the children’s behavior. Children and youth must show appropriate respect for adults and each other as well as for one another’s personal property and belongings. This includes care and respect for the property of any facility being used or visited (a church, home, etc.).
NJHSA seeks to have all practices, events, activities and publications be in keeping with whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8) in order that whatever (we) do, whether in word or deed, (we) do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Col. 3:17).
What We Believe
Membership in NJHSA is open to families who i) are actively home schooling their children; (ii) have paid NJHSA dues for the current academic year; (iii) are members of a Local Support Group (see descriptions at left); (iv) and attest to certain core beliefs by signing NJHSA's Statement of Faith. We seek to ensure that our practices, activities and events will not conflict with a Christian world and life view, including the primacy of the family in God’s plan, regardless of other doctrinal differences, denomination affiliation, or individual church practices.
The following Statement of Faith represents certain core beliefs of the Board of NJHSA, LSG leadership teams and NJHSA membership which must not be compromised or diminished in our common goal of Christian Education. Each Board member, member of an LSG leadership team and NJHSA member attests to this Statement of Faith with clear conscience before God as a condition of his or her service and association with NJHSA.
Statement of Faith
Because of the spiritual unity of believers, by our common faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, individual doctrinal differences and church practices should not hinder the unity of Christian home educators. At the same time, we desire a Statement of Faith that is specific enough to exclude those who belong to groups generally regarded as cults or those who would call themselves “Christian” but reject the biblical truths and principles below. Without apology, NJHSA espouses a creationist approach. Paragraphs 3 and 4 are included, therefore, not as a test of whether the subscriber is a Christian, but for consistency of approach in all coursework endorsed by NJHSA. Similarly, as society and Government regulation condone actions and behaviors contrary to God’s word, paragraphs 12 and 13 are included, not to put a stumbling block before members, but to affirm a common Biblical worldview amongst the NJHSA community, rejecting all that is contrary to Scripture, that adds to it, or takes away from it.
1. We believe there is but one eternal triune God, the Creator of the universe, who has revealed Himself in three distinct Persons: the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (John 1:1-3, 14; John 14:6-18; Revelation 1:8)
2. We believe the Bible is the only divinely inspired written revelation of the Creator to man; infallible and completely authoritative in all matters. (2 Timothy 3:16; Revelation 22:18-19)
3. We believe all things in the universe were created and made by God as described in Genesis 1:1-2:3 and that the Biblical record of history in Genesis 1-11 is fully historical and factual. (Exodus 20:8-11; Job 38:1-11; Isaiah 44:24)
4. We believe all things, which now exist, continue to be sustained by their Creator who has instructed mankind to exercise dominion over all other created organisms, and over the earth itself (an implicit mandate for true science, technology, commerce, fine art, and education.) (Genesis 1:27-31; 2:4-23; Job 38 - 41)
5. We believe that Jesus Christ is God come in human flesh, born of a virgin, being both fully God and fully man, except without sin. (Matthew 1; Luke 1:26-35; Luke 3:21-38; John 1:1-3, 14)
6. We believe in the historic fact of Jesus' death and bodily resurrection. (Matthew 27-28; Mark 15-16; Luke 23-24; John 19-20; 1 Corinthians 15:12-28)
7. We believe that fallen man is by nature sinful and is inherently in need of salvation. Salvation is the free gift of God given to the sinner by grace and received by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. (Ezekiel 18: 19-32; Romans 3:22-24; Romans 5:17; Ephesians 2:8-9)
8. We believe in the necessity and sufficiency of the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ as the only atonement for our sins. (Isaiah 53, Acts 4:10-12; Romans 3:25-26; Hebrews 9: 11-15; Hebrews 10:10, 12; Galatians 2:20)
9. We believe that the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to convict sinners of their need of salvation, and to indwell, guide, instruct, and empower believers for godly living and service. (Matthew 28:19; John 14:16-17, 26; Acts 1:8; Acts 9:31; Ephesians 1:13)
10. We believe in the personal return of our Lord Jesus Christ--he himself and not another--coming with power and great glory as King to judge both the living and the dead. (Luke 21:27-28; Revelation 20:11-15; Revelation 21:1-5; Revelation 22:12)
11. We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:12-27)
12. We believe that to love Jesus Christ is to obey Him and to affirm His commands. (John 14:15; 14:21; 1 John 5:2-3, 2 John 1:6) Christ’s commandments are summarized as follows: ”You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind”, and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:36 – 40; Exodus 20:1-17; Deut. 5:6-21)
13. We believe Christ’s love is a love that restores sinners to the Father and that we are to love as He loved. (John 14:6, John 13:34) We therefore believe that those who would affirm sin, who call evil good and good evil, are acting in hatred toward God and neighbor, by affirming that which separates humanity from our heavenly Father. (Isaiah 5:20, Amos 5:14-15, Micah 3:2-4, Mal 2:17, Romans 12:9, 2, Romans 1:28-32, 2 Timothy 3:1-5, 1 Cor. 6:9, Isaiah 59:2, Isaiah 64:6-7) We affirm the following:
- We affirm sexuality within a lifelong monogamous historical biblical and legal marriage relationship between one natural man and one natural woman.. (Gen. 1:27-28)
- We affirm that all human life from the moment of conception to death has profound worth and dignity regardless of race, gender, mental capacity and physical capability as image bearers of God . (Gen. 1:27, Psalm 51:5, Psalm 139:13-16)
- We affirm the traditional biblical family as one husband and one wife along with the children God has blessed them with, both natal and adopted, along with those families having a single head of household (no partner) as the result of a loss of spouse, biblical divorce, conversion, or having never been married. . (Gen. 2:24, Eph. 5:22-6:4, Matt 19:7-9)
NJHSA: A Blessed History 1986 - ?
Imagine a time when there were no curriculum fairs, no Teaching Home magazine, no Home School Legal Defense Association! When “homeschooling” was a word to be whispered. This was the climate in which six north Jersey families found themselves, in February of 1986.
“...They prayed for more home schoolers.”
It all began when they individually attended a Raymond Moore seminar, and were grouped geographically. What a thrill to discover other home schoolers living nearby - and rumor had it there were another nine home schooling families out there somewhere! These six families began meeting around the kitchen table of the Marchetti household, thankful for the fellowship and support. And they prayed for more home schoolers. Although it was only 1986, these early home educators were truly pioneers blazing new paths. The only laws on the books concerning home education in New Jersey were written in the 1960's in the Massa case. And in Alabama, a home schooling family was currently embroiled in a case in which the parents were arrested, and their children whisked off to Tennessee for protection. Home schoolers everywhere were wondering, “Will the authorities be at our doorstep next?” In this precarious climate, the only support available to NJHSA’s first families were a few “experts”, including Nancy Plente of the Unschoolers Network, who encouraged them that there would be longevity in this movement: home schooling was here to stay!
“Homeschooling was here to stay!”
Even so, home educators had a difficult time finding resources and curricula. Marge Marchetti reports having explored William Paterson’s resource library, and inquired at Christian college libraries, with little success. No one was publishing materials for the home school. ABeka didn’t want anything to do with home educators at that time! One of the only resources, published in 1986, was Mary Pride’s Big Book of Home Learning. Her reviews of “Everything Educational for You and Your Children” fit into this one-inch volume. These early home schoolers, together with growing numbers all over the country, were laboriously and effectively prying open what is literally a wellspring of resources for home schoolers today. Though the original group of families kept low key, they were soon joined by another group, bringing their number to about 12 families. To those who had been teaching their children in isolation, it became clear that the support and encouragement they received from their association with one another was invaluable, and the North Jersey Home Schoolers Association was born.
Besides their “couples’ meetings” they began to hold monthly field trips and a simple end-of-year closing program which included food, fellowship and certificates for the children. A newsletter, written by various members, was sent out with news and announcements. The members continued to pray for God’s guidance and blessing on NJHSA.
“Okay! We can stop praying for more home schoolers now!”
Growth came in waves, with groups of families joining NJHSA in overwhelming numbers, “which seemed to double every time we turned around”, Marge remembers. “We decided: Okay! We can stop praying for more home schoolers now!” Each new wave of growth brought changes to the organization. With 50 - 60 families, the loosely coordinated group needed more cohesiveness, and that was largely provided through the Newsletter, which was started by Bob and Margie Reith in 1989. Through that publication, the members felt more connected, with their common goals clarified. To keep up with the growing administrative demands, a five-member Steering Committee was formed, among whom tasks were to be delegated, and decisions for the group’s direction made. An Opening Day Picnic, a Science Fair and Curriculum Night were added to NJHSA’s yearly calendar of events. A Questionnaire was sent to all members soliciting help in different areas.
Based on the response, in 1990 the Steering Committee was enlarged to include nine members. Carla Abrams accepted the role of Chairperson. The NJHSA Handbook was produced. Added to the list of NJHSA offerings were the New Members’ Dinner, the Children’s Newsletter, the Hotline, a Counseling Service, a Phone Chain and a Youth Group. The following year would see the first annual Fine Arts Festival, and the Closing Program blossomed into a musical performance, under Beth Prins’ guidance. The Lord was bringing - and continues to bring - many gifted and talented people to NJHSA to enrich the group. At this time, we were about 100 families strong. The rapid growth of home schooling here in northern New Jersey was of course only a slice of what was happening all over the country. Support groups were springing up nationwide. Publishers finally accepted the fact that home schooling was here to stay, and the home schooling market mushroomed. Mary Pride’s one Big Book of Home Learning of 1986 exploded into two, then four volumes in 1991, with the editor fairly gasping for breath as she tried to keep up with it all! Many organizations were formed to offer home schoolers legal help, support, consulting, research, testing and networking.
Good - but scary - changes were on the horizon . . .
NJHSA was now 10 years old. As with all 10-year-olds, with adolescence right around the corner, growing pains were beginning to be felt. Good - but scary - changes were on the horizon. By 1995, with NJHSA’s membership in the 200's, it became clear that the organization had outgrown its original structure: no longer could a Steering Committee of home schooling mothers handle the increasing demands of leading and serving such a large number of families - and simultaneously home school their own children! Serious thought was given to restructuring. The Committee, together with their husbands, attended meetings and workshops to learn what solutions other growing organizations were finding. The ensuing two-year period was filled with meetings, debate, planning and prayer. The goal was to accept and deal with the fact that NJHSA was now a “large support group,” and yet maintain a cohesiveness and a level of intimacy which was particularly important to new home schooling families. By 1997, the leaders who had long grappled with the vision of restructuring held a meeting to announce: NJHSA was about to be a Grandmother! No longer would she be “mother” to 200+ families. She would be giving birth to a number of smaller, local support groups, which would then “mother” smaller numbers of home schooling families. These local groups, each with its own leadership team, would manage and meet families’ needs on a more local, intimate level. By September, NJHSA was ready to operate with its new structure in place. In answer to prayer, the Lord provided a solid, capable and godly executive Board, headed by Rev. Dan Bratt, to oversee the newly formed organization. With the blessing of the Board from the “Grandmother Ship”, ten local support groups were launched out on the Sea of Leadership and Support. A bit wobbly at first, they learned how to keep afloat while casting their nets, gathering in new families, training new leaders, organizing their own support meetings, group classes, field trips and special events. Some of those “small” groups quickly grew to include nearly 50 home schooling families!
... the kitchen table finally regained its place of honor.
As a result of the new structure, many capable leaders emerged, many gifted and talented mothers and fathers found a place to actively serve one another, and strengthen their local home schooling communities. Members were finally finding the fellowship and support they needed - without having to drive to “central” location 25 miles away from home! And the “Kitchen Table” finally regained its place of honor. Though operating independently to “mother” home schooling families in their own communities, the local groups were also given the responsibility of strengthening and being actively involved at the “grandmother” level of NJHSA. NJHSA would maintain its unity, identity and focus through the Board: an Executive Board made up of a President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer, and also a Representative from each Local Support Group (LSG). Meeting regularly around the board table located at Franklin Lakes Reformed Bible Church, this large group of servant-leaders helped stop up the “leaks” and work the out the “kinks” of NJHSA’s new beginning. Just as NJHSA began to experience “smooth sailing” with its new structure, another issue finally needed to be dealt with: Who IS NJHSA - legally speaking? WE knew who we were - looking back on a rich and exciting history, thankful for all we’d accomplished together, anticipating many more years of home schooling leadership and support.
We’d long seen ourselves as “a bunch of moms with babies on our knees, eating brownies together”, but we had also earned the nicknames “A Group of People Who Write Checks to One Another”, and “A Group of Families that Rent Out Large Buildings”. Our many activities and enterprises increasingly required funds to be collected and disbursed, and this demanded financial integrity. We also needed larger and larger facilities to house our special events, and this inevitably brought up insurance questions. How should NJHSA responsibly deal with these issues brought about by her phenomenal growth and vitality? Another major change now became the subject of much investigation, prayer and debate: incorporation. Through the hard work of several committees, it was decided that NJHSA would benefit from incorporating, and corporate documents were drawn up, as well as a Constitution and By-laws. On July 8th, 1999, NJHSA officially became the North Jersey Home Schoolers Association, Incorporated.
...Home schooling is not just an educational phenomenon, but a spiritual one.
It is the dawn of a new millennium - an exciting, awe-inspiring, prayer-inspiring time for everyone. We are convinced that home schooling is not just an educational phenomenon, but a spiritual one. It is clear that God has been at work in the hearts of tens of thousands of American parents, drawing them to a closer, more committed walk with Him. As Christian families in our declining culture determine to raise their children in the training and admonition of the Lord, we are seeing the emergence of a home schooling community that is mature, committed, and influential. We are thankful that today, the home schooling community enjoys more freedom, more support and more respect than ever before. Having received many blessings from God, and having undergone many changes, NJHSA, Inc. remains a group of families supporting and encouraging one another in home education. Through answered prayer and the leading of God, we now stand ready to face the challenges of the future, together, with all of our confidence in the God Who brought us “safe thus far.” No doubt we will continue to adapt to the group’s growth and changing needs. Our simple goal, however, remains the same as it was back in 1986, around a humble kitchen table: to provide a way for home schoolers to meet, share ideas and learning experiences, and support one another, all in a way that brings glory to God.