Once upon a time, a preschool ministry operated on theproperty of Pilgrim Lutheran Church, Ontario, Oregon. Ahouse owned by the congregation had been set up to function as Fruit of the Spirit Preschool. Though separated from the church building by just an alley and parking lot,over its decade of operation the reality became that the preschool was a world apart from Pilgrim, conducting itsministry separately from the overall congregational visionand mission. Then the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and the preschool director made the independent decision to close the preschool. Permanently.
Notice went out to the community that the preschool was closed for good.Last school year Pilgrim Lutheran Church decided it wastime for a broader vision of reaching out to its community,and decided to view the preschool closure as anopportunity for something new. Something more. They applied for a Northwest District Catalyst Grant to help dothis. The vision? Seeing the considerable lack of early childhood programs remaining in Ontario, they decided tob ring back their preschool ministry, but this time as anintentional arm of the congregation, to be called Pilgrim Lutheran Preschool. They hired a teacher (who is amazing!).
They marketed to the community (who had been told therewould never be a preschool again). They remodeled and upgraded the building (it looks great inside – with more to be done on the outside soon). We’re thrilled to celebrate that Pilgrim Lutheran Preschool is now serving multiple children again in a rich, Lutheran early learning environment. But this is only Phase One of the vision. Again, assisted by Catalyst Grant funding that supplements the money the congregation’s members have committed, Pilgrim is going through the process (and ensuring the facility upgrades required) to convert their preschool building to a licensed childcare center, so as to offer full day care that wraps around their excellent preschool learning time.
They are also remodeling the church basement, including ADA ramp access, restroom upgrades, and more, to turn the large space into licensed extended care for local elementary school students, increasing the years they may partner with local families, sharing the faith and building relationships with more and more families for a longer period of time.And there’s one more step, still a few years down the road:expanding to open a Lutheran elementary school. What does God have in mind? This is what the people of Pilgrimcontinue to explore and pray over, under the spiritedleadership of Pastor LeRoy Raynor and faithfulcongregation leadership individuals. So far, God has blessed this rebirth. Please pray for His continued guidance and blessing at this ministry on the far eastern reaches of Oregon.