Arizona Church Benefits from Preschool

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Hope Community Christian Reformed Church in Flagstaff, Ariz., didn’t anticipate operating its own preschool.

At first, the church served only as landlord for Pine Cone Preschool, but when the school was in jeopardy of closing, the church ended up being its owner.

“Planting seeds of faith,” is the preschool’s motto.

 “It’s become a mission of the church, to get the children ready for school, to introduce them to the concept of Christianity and to be a family to them and to their families,” said Dan Otten, an elder at Hope Community.

Otten said that the school’s founders, two women from the Flagstaff community, had a hard time finding a church willing to make the building changes required to run a pre-school, such as equipping every room with a working sink.

But volunteers like Otten stepped forward to do the work to ready Hope Community’s rooms. The school opened, though within a year it was floundering.

That’s when the church decided to move from landlord to operator. The church hired Beth Johndrow, an experienced preschool director, in December 2008. In the past two years, the school has flourished, adding a daycare for children as young as six weeks of age. The preschool is now near its licensed capacity of 50 children, Johndrow said.

While providing daycare and early education for children from the Flagstaff community, operating Pine Cone Preschool has also brought income to the small congregation.

Even better, four of the preschool families have started attending the church on a regular basis, Otten said.

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