Big Picture

Child Evangelism Fellowship victorious in lawsuit against Rhode Island school district for denying access to public schools

‘We are thrilled to reenter these schools and set up our programs once more, offering thousands of kids a chance to learn about God’s powerful love,’ says CEF Executive Vice President Moises Esteves

For Immediate Release

July 24, 2023

ST. LOUIS Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF), an 86-year-old ministry dedicated to reaching boys and girls around the world with the Gospel through various outreaches, is celebrating a monumental victory — after an arduous battle, CEF Rhode Island and its Good News Clubs prevailed in its lawsuit against Rhode Island’s Providence Public School District and its superintendent, Dr. Javier Montanez. After being denied access to the school to promote Good News Clubs®, CEF filed a lawsuit against the district and the superintendent for violating free speech and equal-protections rights. CEF’s goal was to regain access to the school property to minister to the children in need of the Gospel message.

“For years, CEF staff and volunteers haven’t been able to reach the children in this school district with the Gospel,” said CEF Executive Vice President Moises Esteves. “Every single year, children left these schools without the opportunity to experience God’s truth through our Good News Clubs. However, we are thrilled to reenter these schools and set up our programs once more, offering thousands of kids a chance to learn about God’s powerful love.”

The school district previously allowed CEF Rhode Island to run a Good News Club at the elementary school for the 2019–2020 school year before COVID caused the cancelation of all clubs in Spring 2020. When CEF Rhode Island requested to resume the Good News Club, as well as start a new club at another local elementary school in the district for the 2021–2022 school year, district officials failed to respond to repeated facilities use applications by CEF Rhode Island. For nearly two years, the district continued to block CEF Rhode Island from hosting its elementary school Good News Clubs on district school facilities. However, other organizations such as Boys and Girls Clubs, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Girls on the Run were given free use of school facilities for after school programs.

“CEF Good News Clubs positively impact the lives of children and their families,” said Esteves. “Millions of children around the world have found the saving grace of the Gospel through our Good News Clubs, then brought these lessons home to impact their families.”

At Good News Clubs, teachers who are screened and equipped lead action-packed gatherings every week, delivering timeless truths of the Bible in exciting, engaging ways. Good News Clubs do not charge a fee and welcome children with written permission from parents. There are currently more than 2,500 Good News Clubs in 1,660 schools across the United States, including in other Rhode Island school districts.

“Children need the Gospel now more than ever before. In a world filled with such darkness, many find the light of Christ to be the first experience of hope and love they’ve ever had,” said Esteves.

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “This is a great victory for Child Evangelism Fellowship and the students and parents of the Providence School District. Public schools cannot discriminate against Christian viewpoints regarding use of school facilities. Child Evangelism Fellowship gives children a biblically based education that includes moral and character development. Good News Clubs should be in every public elementary school.”

Child Evangelism Fellowship, which was founded 86 years ago, has been establishing Good News Clubs® in countries around the world for decades. Clubs are thriving worldwide, in countries including Australia, Cambodia, Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Uganda.

Last year, through CEF’s combined ministries, more than 19.5 million children worldwide heard the Good News. In 2022, more than 439,000 teachers were trained around the world.

For more CEF news, see the ministry’s latest edition of the online magazine Impact.

Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) is an international, nonprofit, Christian ministry that has been dedicated to seeing every child reached with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, discipled and established in a local church since 1937. CEF is located in all 50 American states and in most countries around the world, with over 3,500 paid staff and tens of thousands of volunteers around the world.


To interview a representative from Child Evangelism Fellowship, contact [email protected], Beth Harrison, 610.584.1096, ext. 105, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.