Dr. D. Merle Skinner, Licensed Professional Counselor
Center Executive Director


I was a part of the founding of the Center in 1981 because of a passion to see the Christian Community provide distinctly Christian services in the context of a world that sees the family falling apart. It has been my desire to provide an organization that can contribute to the effort of helping families and children in a truly biblical way. To that end, I have devoted my career to accomplishing that purpose.  My undergraduate background is in Child Development from the University of Pittsburgh.  My Master's Degree is in Organizational Leadership from Geneva College, and my Doctoral Degree is in Counseling Psychology from Argosy University. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor in PA as well as having Educational certifications in Early Education, and an All levels Principal Certificate.  I am also involved in bringing a Christian World View to public policy as it relates to Christian Education, Counseling, Human Services, and the family.


I live in Champion, Pennsylvania with my wife Barb.   We have three daughters;  Sarah who is a graduate of Taylor University in Indiana and works for the Commonwealth of PA, Danah who is a graduate of Malone Christian College in Ohio and who is working in the Elementary Education Department at the Center, and Amy who graduated from Messiah Christian College in Grantham, PA and is working in the field of Technology Marketing in Pittsburgh for Google.  I have a beagle Max. I love to hunt, play golf, and spend time with my family. The Lord has blessed us tremendously in both our professional and personal lives. I love to communicate with people, and am stimulated by talking about service to the Lord.

If you'd like to contact me...

About what you're doing in terms of working with families and children, I'd love to hear from you. I spend a good deal of time working with organizations who work with families and I'd love to learn from you and also share in any way I could be helpful to you.


 Dr. D. Merle Skinner, LPC

Curriculum Vitae

Address: 2118 Indian Head Road Champion, Pennsylvania 15622
Work: 724-455-2122 ext. 103 or 724-593-9200 ext. 103

Cell: (724) 557-2675

Email: info@champion.org




Argosy University, Chicago, IL.      Ed. D. Counseling Psychology.   2014 

Geneva College, Masters Science Organizational Leadership. Summa Cum Laude MS. 2002

University of Pittsburgh, Child Development, Pittsburgh, PA.  Magna Cum Laude B.S., 1980

Connellsville Area Senior High School, Connellsville, Pennsylvania, Diploma, June 1976




April 2015 – Present: Adjunct Faculty Member, Various College and Universities; Colorao Christian University, Davis College and Biblical Life Institute
Responsibilities: Part time Psychology Instructor


September 1981- Present: Christian Family & Children's Center, Founder and Chief Executive Officer.

Administrative Responsibilities:  Developing and Ongoing management of operational and institutional advancement functions.  Coordination of Financial, Development, Transportation and Government operations.  Licensed Professional Counselor.

Oversight of Program Development:  Developing and implementing programs, Supervision oversight of Counseling and Educational Programming including Champion Christian Schools P-12;  New horizons Pregnancy Resource Center, Christian Counseling Services, Transportation Services, the operations of finances, development, leadership development, personnel, regulating agencies, and other administrative tasks.  Supervision and Development of Hiring, Supervision, mentoring, and other employee operations. 

May 1980 - September 1981: Fayette Community Mental Health System. Site supervisor. Duties: Supervision and training of four staff, assisting Masters Level Social Worker in assessing needs of children, coordinating, planning, and implementation of daily activities, parent education, development workshops, program evaluation, preparation of case studies for consultants, and supervision of record keeping.


Practicum Experience 1976-1980:  South Hills Mental Health System with emotionally disturbed adolescents including the development of individual and group treatment plans, direct responsibility for the small group of boys and their clinical work.   New Horizon Homes, Inc. residential placement for severely and profoundly retarded children: Direct line care, designing behavioral modification treatment plans.  Arsenal Family and Children's Center: after school workshop working with school age and pre-adolescent children, psychiatric evaluation and assessment conferences.   





Kalb, B.; Sivek, J. and Skinner, D. "Children From Intact Families Conceptualizations of Divorce". University of Pittsburgh, Unpublished Research Project.

Contributor to various professional and trade publications:  Early Childhood Education.  The Benefits of Accreditation.  The Current Early Education Landscape, and others. ACSI, Colorado Springs. 

Skinner, D. "The Effects of training, level of religious commitment and perceived roadblocks on the integration of Spirituality into psychotherapy". Argosy University, Doctoral Dissertation.

Various Poster Presentations at AACC Conferences on Religious integration into professional therapy and public policy.




Licensed Professional Counselor, PA Board of Social Work and Counseling

Pennsylvania Department of Education, Private School Teaching Certificate. Private School

Principal Certificate and Early Education Teaching Certification

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and First Aid 

Pennsylvania CDL Class B Certified driver with Passenger and School Bus Endorsement and Certified School Bus CDL Driver Trainer:  Provides regular and ongoing training to the Transportation Department at the Christian Family & Children’s Center as a part of the PA Department of Transportation Driver Training Program Services, School Bus Division.

Life member of the national registry of who’s who published in the 2001 edition, number


Professional Certification School Administrator, Association of Christian Schools International

Member of American Association of Christian Counselors

Member, and Past President Laurel Mountain Ministerial Association

Past President, Mountain Laurel Chamber of Commerce

Board Member REACH Alliance and Foundation, Harrisburg, PA

Board Member ACSI Children's Tuition Fund


                      RELATED EXPERIENCE


Co-Coordinator and Executive Director for PA CAPE Chapter (Council on Private Education):  Responsible for coordination of all member private school associations in PA with regard to ongoing organizational activities, advocacy at the State level, and professional development activities as well as representing the Commonwealth at the Federal level.  Coordinating and in charge of 9 ACSI State Affiliates involved in coordinating Christian Schools in Public Policy at the State Level.

American Association Christian Counselors:  Research Poster Presentation at National Conference of Dissertation Research regarding the Integration of Spirituality in Therapy.  Poster Presentation on the development of a Professional National network of State Advocacy Networks within the Christian Counseling Network.

Board Member, Association Christian Schools International Children’s Tuition Fund:  A national organization dedicated to developing and managing tax credit programs for ACSI across the country.

Board Member, REACH Alliance:  The REACH Foundation (Road to Educational Achievement Through CHoice) and its sister organization, the REACH Alliance, are Pennsylvania’s grassroots coalitions dedicated to ensuring parental choice in education.

CAPE National Chair of Early Education Task Force 2000 - 

Coordinator for ACSIPA a statewide network of Christian schools:  Coordination of all statewide advocacy and networking for all ACSI schools within the Commonwealth.  Consulting and Coordination roles of a similar group in MD, ACSIMD; NJ, ACSINJ, and: NY, ACSINY and WV, MA, KY, and CT.

Various workshops and keynote sessions designed and implemented on issues related to families, education, marriage, parenting and children.  Educational information ranges from infancy through adulthood. Counseling information across various age and developmental age groups. 

Past President of Mountain Laurel Chamber of Commerce,  Donegal

Various public speaking engagements, written publications, and Radio and T.V. appearances for church and community organizations.  Past co-host of IMPACT LIVE, a daily radio program about Christian services in Western PA. 

Past Advisory Board Member, Westmoreland County Community College, Program on Child Development and Child Care

Regular Participant for Conference Planning Committees for Association of Christian Schools International, ACSIPA and PACAPE around Christian and Education issues, professional development and implications of public policy. 

National Early Childhood Issues National Planning Work session in Colorado. Represented the Northeast Region of the Association of Christian Schools International

Past Weekly Radio Show Co-Host on WWNL focused around regional issues affecting the family.

Coordinate and Offer Professional Testimony given to state legislative committees on issues relating to the family in the Commonwealth and at the Federal level

Past District Representative for Western Pennsylvania Association of Christian Schools International, Mid-Atlantic Region, Elected position.

Pennsylvania Governor's Early Education Commission:  Past appointment to committee to establish direction for the Early Education community in Pennsylvania. 

Awarded the University of Pittsburgh's Child Development Program’s Fred Rogers-Nancy Currey Award for distinguished service to children and families as a part of the Department of Education’s Applied Psychology Department.


My Philosophy of Christian Education

Presented to the Board of the Christian Family & Children's Center

and the Ministry of Champion Christian School

in partial fulfillment of the requirements

for ACSI Administrator's Certification


D. Merle Skinner


This paper is written as a partial fulfillment for the requirements the ACSI Administrator's Certification Process. It is done after the completion of readings on Christian Educational Philosophy including Christian Philosophy of Education (1995), The Christian Mind (1963), Christian Education in a Democracy (1995), and The Pattern of God'sTruth (1993). The ACSI video series on the Philosophy of Christian Education was also viewed as a part of this process.

The developing of a Christian philosophy of education has been a pursuit that has continued over the past 20 years of my professional career. It is a concept that began to take shape in my mind during my undergraduate studies in Child Development at the University of Pittsburgh. Although that academic experience was in a secular context, it was also one that provided a strong understanding of the developmental growth processes of children as it relates to education and overall development.

In this same academic context I also found myself immersed in a distinctly Christian community of professionals who were striving to understand their faith in the context of the professional development we are experiencing. It was within this experience that my philosophy of human services as well as Christian education began to develop. Although looking back now on the process, it would have been wonderful to have benefited from a distinctly Christian perspective in that formative time, there was a tremendous amount of truth taught in that setting. Although the context of the University's secular world view did not maximize God's truth that I learned there, it was still true. This is descriptive of Gabelein's discussion of all truth being God's Truth as described in The Pattern of God's Truth. Of course, as with any professional development process my understanding of God's perspective on education still continues to develop. This paper represents my understanding of that process at this particular point of my development. It reflects my experiences in the classroom as well as my current context of administration.


Christian World View

From my perspective, a philosophy of Christian education has to begin with understanding the context of world view. World view is best described as a perspective from which one filters all information. Francis Schaeffer (1992) was the first author that I read who discussed the concept of world view. It is my perspective that the developing of a Christian world view is one of the most important priorities that need to happen in children and adults who want to follow Christ. If we think about world view in the context of perspectives it can be seen as a broad set of assumptions that are made by human beings in order to be able to make sense of the world around them. These assumptions then provide the underlying base from which to understand all experiences and information. A Christian world view is distinctly different from other world views. In today's educational societies and systems the primary world view that is prevalent is a humanistic world view that essentially sees man as the center of the universe. Because of this, man-centered understandings of all experiences are expected to be driven within that context. A Christian World View, which essentially establishes God at the center of everything is derived from Biblical perspectives, seeing God and His Truth at the Center of all things. The differences between these world views provide significant differences from which other education methodologies, reference points, and perspectives can be drawn. Several areas of such differences are essential to my understanding of what is a Christian philosophy of education.


Source of truth: In a Christian world view the source of truth is derived from God and an understanding of who He is, as well as what he has said to be true. This is understood through correct interpretation of His word, the Bible. Although there are many areas of debate about truth as it relates to education, essentially any educational philosophy that attempts to understand truth must begin from a perspective on what truth is. A Humanistic world view essentially sees man as having the ability to discover truth, articulate truth, or know truth, based on who he is and his abilities. Truth also becomes relative because truth for one culture, system or person may be different from another. This plays itself out in incredible ways in the educational systems of our day. Although we all may agree that 2 + 2= 4, or that the law of gravity is a valid law of science, we may understand the reasons for that from vastly different perspectives. These issues become more critical in a variety of areas of study, such as the study of origins, psychology, sociology or even education itself. What is unfortunate about a religious humanistic perspective on education is that it allows for a spiritual nature but does not allow for integration of that perspective within certain contexts. Unfortunately, many Christians are willing to settle for that perspective which allows for faith and God to be communicated in certain contexts in certain areas of their lives, but to accept the fact that it must be prohibited in other areas. Examples of areas which are excluded are vocation, academic studies and certain life discussions. It is precisely this temptation which makes Christian education and the philosophy of Christian education so vital to the Christian community today. It is also a natural outgrowth of an integrated Christian Education for individuals to establish a real understanding about how to allow Jesus to be Lord over every area of their lives.


Understanding who man is: This, along with man's role, and his nature is another difference between world views. A humanistic world view of mankind, or of course children, sees men as beings that are ultimately good. Such innate goodness if given just the right circumstances will not only produce and grow in healthy and fulfilling kinds of ways, but also will discover truth and do the right things. Although these characteristics of man kind are descriptive of our nature, they are more reflective of our God-centered nature than our human-centered nature. They are more reflections of God's character than people. A Christian world view attempts to study man, his role, and his nature in the context of scripture. There are a variety of key concepts in scripture that relate to this. Some of the highlights are that man is by nature fallen and sinful. He does need the direction, accountability, and instruction that comes through God's truth. He also needs, because of his fallen nature, redemption and regeneration through Christ and the Holy Spirit. Although, once again methodologies appear similar in striving toward these ends, the basic assumptions about the heart of man and who he is remains critical to understanding and shaping those processes.


Goals of life: Another major difference between world views relate to the goals mankind should have for his life. A humanistic world view sees at best its goals of life to produce happiness, contentment, success, and a variety of other things that are derived from a variety of perspectives. Although these things are not by nature wrong, in a Christian world view the goals of man are seen as glorifying God by fulfilling a calling he has on our lives. Education, of course, is seen as critical in preparing children for life, but once again, although similar, there are core differences in how we begin to prepare students based on our understanding of world view, shaping the goals of what students are to do.


Authority: This is a perspective that changes immensely based on an understanding of world views. From a Christian and biblio-centric world view, God is seen as the ultimate authority in life. It is based on His perspective that we understand ourselves, what we do, and how we live. In the education system the authorities are in place, from teachers to board members, to be responsible for educational issues. All authorities are seen as subject to other authorities under the context of the Lord. This is ultimately rooted in an understanding of God's truth and who He is. In a humanistic perspective authority is seen as relative and individuals are seen as basically the highest authority in our lives. Although respect is given to the concept of authority in a humanistic world view, it is not because of ultimate truth or reality, but because there must be order in the world. Therefore, authority needs to be challenged, to be checked, to be understood in the context of who we are as opposed to checking and understanding ourselves in the context of ultimate authority. Obviously, this has huge implications for how we discipline students, the kind or rationales that are developed around student discipline issues or even how faculty members, staff, or parents are understood in the context of education. It is important in this context to understand not only why we discipline students but what the ultimate goal of discipline is. An accurate understanding of authority, which forms a Christian perspective about subjection to Christ, and His lordship on our lives is critical to the development of a Godly person.


The role of parents: This is the last area that I want to touch on regarding the differences in world views. Who parents are, what their roles are, and their relationship with schools and students is viewed differently based on your world view. In a distinctly Christian world view the parents are seen as the ones given by God the responsibility to educate and raise children. Schools, in that context are seen as assisting parents and enabling parents to ultimately educate their children thereby fulfilling this God-given responsibility. This of course is a role that shapes policy about who makes final education decisions in the lives of students. This is true whether we agree or disagree with these decisions as a school. In the context of a humanistic world view, parents are seen only as one authority in the lives of students. Government and other authorities are placed with equal value and responsibilities toward raising children. This at times even requires children to make a decision about which authority to listen to when there are conflicting values. This basic difference in the role of schools in the lives of students exemplifies the concepts described in Christian Education in A Democracy (1995).


Although there are many other issues that relate and could be compared or contrasted within the context of world view, I will move onto other issues that essentially use a world view as a backdrop to understanding a Christian educational Philosophy.


Human Development in Context

Any educational philosophy has to deal with the philosophical underpinnings that affect methodology. It is my perspective that a Christian educational philosophy has to understand how we work with kids in the context of how God has created and designed them. It is from this perspective that I believe God's Word drives us to understand students as made up of a variety of different aspects integrated into one whole. He's created different aspects of humanity that are affected by education. In my mind, although they need to be addressed in different contexts they can't be separated, as described in a variety of sections in The Philosophy of Christian Education (1995). They are integrated parts of a student to be described in the following five categories:


Spiritual Development: This is the part of us that can develop an understanding of who God is and relates and understands God in the context of the spirit world. This is the part of mankind or children that could be most significantly influenced by Christian education in the context of helping them come to an understanding of Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. Just as significant is the developing of an understanding of spiritual truths and how they relate to the worship of Jesus Christ in not only your spiritual life, but in every other aspect of our life. It is this spiritual component that rules over the other areas of our development. In this sense it affects the overall development of students' lives. In addressing spiritual development, the Christian educational philosophy has to work from the beginning in basics that are developed from God's word. God's Word needs to be central in all aspects of curriculum and other areas of growth and development. Biblical principals for living, learning, and growing, are integrated into every other aspect of education. Without this we end up with a fragmented understanding of the world is which we separate the various components of our lives and in a sense put God in a box.


Cognitive Development: This is the area that relates to thinking and the development of cognitive processes that enable us to function throughout the whole of life. It of course relates to the academic discipline and the academic order that is required to learn and shape our understanding. Again, it is my perspective that this relates to every other area of development and must be tied to how God has designed children to learn. This unique process helps to develop the distinctly Christian mind talked about by Blamires in The Christian Mind (1978 ). It is my belief that there are significant scriptural references and indications that students learn in a developmental way that builds upon previous learning experiences and addresses critical periods in the context of growth and development. It is indicated and identified by scripture that commands us to bring up a child in a way that he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6). This passage is thought to mean that if we give our kids lots of God centered training when they are young it will cause a wayward child to come back to Christ in his older years. Although this is implied in that passage, the real key to understanding this passage is to understand that if we do not shape and grow children spiritually at critical periods of development (the way they should go), it will be nearly impossible for them to assimilate both scriptural and spiritual truths later in their lives. This again, drives the goal of Christian education to integrate all areas of spiritual development in the context of who kids are. Other areas of cognitive growth that have to be addressed by Christian educational philosophy relate to how students learn. Although there is in our godly design a drive to learn, it is a discipline process that must be administered and directed by godly teachers that not only love the Lord and have a good understanding of education, but are able to listen to the Holy Spirit to guide and direct the learning of each student in their classroom.


Emotional Development: This area is seen as the part of students that deals with their affect or their ability to feel and to understand themselves in the context of who they are and how they feel about themselves. Critical issues that need to be addressed in this area are self-esteem that relates not to self being the center of the world but to understanding ourselves in the right relationship with Jesus Christ. This not only involves understanding the importance of who we are in relationship to Christ, but ourselves as well. It also addresses dealing appropriately with our emotions enabling us to honor God and relate effectively with others.


Social Development: This area is so critical from a Christian education philosophy that scripture speaks over and over again about how we are to understand ourselves in the context of others, as servants and fellow laborers in Christ. Biblical perspectives address how we deal with confrontation (Matthew 18), authority, relationships, and our development of an understanding of our future relationships with a spouse, friends, or even employers.


Physical Development: The last area is physical development which from a Christian educational philosophy needs to be addressed in the context of our bodies being the temple that has been created to serve Christ. Scripturally God not only demands care and respect of our bodies because of our desire to live longer, but as a discipline and stewardship process which reflects an understanding of the creation and the Creator behind our bodies. This area of development needs to be addressed not only from a classroom perspective, but from a lifestyle perspective.


In summary, each of these areas of development becomes critical for students to develop from a Christian world view. The design of a Christian educational philosophy must articulate the ways that each area is encouraged to develop in the lives of students. The context of a Christian education must drive us to move beyond somewhat myopic models which only see the academic disciplines as the areas appropriate for work in school. It is my belief that any educational philosophy that doesn't account of the overall growth and development of students leaves a student not only less prepared for life, but less prepared to understand himself in the context of the kingdom of God and therefore less prepared to serve Him.




In the context of methodology, besides understanding who students are by design it is important to understand key principals that I believe are related in God's word to drive the educational process.

Central to this concept is the idea of discipline. Discipline is a process that not only is designed to control classrooms to enable learning to take place, but is in itself a process built on the model of becoming more like Christ. Any discipline techniques, philosophies, and methods really need to be rooted in the disciple making process or the idea of creating a follower of Christ. Scripture talks about this process in the case that a student when fully developed will be like his teacher. It is important for Christian educators to understand the discipline process to be rooted in the building of students to be like Christ, and to have His ultimate goals in mind. Of course the daily management of classroom and student behavior are important, but ultimately the training of students to be like Christ is our goal.


Academic confidence and excellence are areas that although not addressed directly by scripture, are implicated in scripture. God calls us to prepare ourselves to serve Him, and to live a godly life in the world. In the context of modern society, education systems play a significant role in that process. It is therefore my perspective that we have to take this process not only seriously, but to continually evaluate that process to ensure that what we are doing is preparing students for life. To allow students to achieve God's plan for their life requires skills and knowledge to be integrated successfully in their lives. It also requires professionals who train students to understand not only human development and God's design for students, but to understand to the best of their ability how students learn, effective techniques for learning, and ways to best accomplish these goals in the lives of students.


Integration is talked about in the context of world view. Integration is also critical in the context of effective education. Not only do subjects need to be integrated with each other to best provide for learning to happen but likewise, Christian principles and world views must be integrated in this context as well. It is an ever evolving process as students grow in Christ. As faculty members grow to understand Christ and Christian principles more and more we must develop a school system that will allow and encourage integration to happen on even more significant levels. To have areas of stimulation for faculty members which allow them to grow spiritually not only in their subject areas but in their lives will cause that to be reflected in the lives of students. The better that Christian schools and Christian parents do this the fewer work students will need to do to undo secular world views in the context of who they are. This will put students further on the road to being able to be fully equipped to serve God and to function in life fulfilling His purposes. This is ultimately the goal of any Christian Philosophy of Education!



Gabelein, Frank. Christian Education in a Democracy (1995). Colorado Springs, CO: Association of Christian Schools International.

Gabelein, Frank. The Pattern of God''s Truth (1993). Colorado Springs, CO: Association of Christian Schools International.

Gibbs, Dr. Ollie F., presenter. Philosophy of Christian School Education (1995). Colorado, Springs, CO: Association of Christian Schools International. 3 hours, VHS Video.

Harry Blamires, The Christian Mind (1978). Ann Arbor: Servant Books.

Kienel, Paul; Gibbs, Ollie; Berry, Sharon. Philosophy of Christian Education (1995). Colorado Springs, CO; Association of Christian Schools International

Schaeffer, Francis. The complete works of Francis A. Schaeffer: A Christian worldview (1992). Westchester, Ill.: Crossway


The Leadership Bible, New International Version (1998). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.


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Donegal, PA 15628
(724) 593-9200
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Indian Head, PA 15446
(724) 455-2122