Photos by Dave Stucke, Dakotas Conference Communications
“It is such a great way for the church to minister to the community,” Lindsey Voeltz, Director of Solid Foundations Growing Center.
Jamestown First United Methodist Church in North Dakota has found a new way to minister to the community. The church has remodeled and opened their space for a child care center—Solid Foundations Growing Center (SFGC).
“We are bringing new life into the church and serving our community,” said Lindsey Voeltz, director of SFGC and member at Jamestown First UMC.
There is a need for quality child care in Jamestown. “We are starting our second year. We are always full and busy,” said Voeltz.
SFGC serves 22 families, ages birth to 12 years, family style. Children can go from room-to-room to be with their siblings. Volunteer grandparents serves as mentors and help out when they can.
Voeltz has a passion for children and serving Christ. “At SFGC we are able to live out our theme verse— Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. (Ephesians 3:17).”
She describes how the activities of the day are shaped by prayer and Christian love. “We are praying all the time at the center. We pray about sharing a toy or healing a small cut. It is so great to have Pastor Elmo or Pastor Michelle just walk through and pray with us.”
Jeanne Sortland, Jamestown First UMC volunteer, lay member to annual conference, and clergy candidate, connected Voeltz’s desire to start a childcare center to the congregation.
“It was a God thing,” said Sortland. “We (Sortland and Voeltz) wanted to get our kids together to go bowling and couldn’t bowl so we ended up going to Lindsey's house. I watched her with the kids and saw firsthand how great she was with them. I asked her if she had every worked with young children because, she was like the child whisperer. She told me that she had always wanted to work with kids.”
Sortland knew that the congregation had always wanted to serve the children in the community. She brought the idea of having Voeltz be the director of a child care center at Jamestown First to Rev. Elmo Herman, senior pastor.
Rev. Herman agreed with Sortland. He proposed the idea of the child care center, with Voeltz as the director, to the administrative board. The administrative board formed committee to work with Voelz. The church members had talked about daycare for many years. The Sunday School rooms were only used one day a week. “There was always a feeling that we should be doing something for families and child care in this community,” said Rev. Michelle Brennan, Jamestown First UMC Family Life Director.
The committee discovered that there was a need to remodel part of the church to make it ready for SFGC. A security system, kitchen, new doors, some flooring and painting were needed.
“Ideally we wanted to put the center on the second floor. We discovered that would require the installation of a sprinkler system,” said Sortland. “For expediency and financial reasons, we went with the first floor. That meant some adult meeting rooms and spaces had to move to second floor.”
A major financial gift, in memory of a loved one, allowed the church to pay for the remodeling. Jamestown First UMC also received some funding from a Breakthrough Ministry grant through the Dakotas Conference and the Dakotas United Methodist Foundation.
The church continues support of the center by providing the space, utilities and the use of the church van. Sortland described the arrangements. “SFGC rents the space, pays the utilities and uses the church van. SFGC pays for the insurance on the van and all other operating expenses, including salaries. The church van is all over town picking up and dropping off kids. It is great advertising for us.”
The church has been reaping some benefits. The community sees the church in a new way.
“When you walk in the church you can tell we love kids," said Sortland.
A family, who has children going to SFGC, started attending Jamestown First UMC. They have since became members and baptized their children at First UMC.
“We encouraged all of the kids at the center to go to Vacation Bible School,” said Voeltz. “I am also blessed with several volunteers and donations from the church. It is such a great way for the church to minister to the community.”
The donations from the church allow Voeltz to operate the SFGC as a ministry. She is able to modify rates and serve family who cannot afford quality child care because of the congregation’s commitment.
What is next? The hope is to continue the partnership between the church and SFGC. The need for child care in the community continues to be enormous.
Breakthrough ministry and school partnership grants due October 31—Are you thinking about starting a church-school partnership? Funds from the 2017 Kids Count Miracle Offering will be awarded through the Breakthrough Ministry Grant application process. Grants are offered to churches and related organizations from the Dakotas United Methodist Foundation and Dakotas Conference of the United Methodist Church. Grants will be awarded quarterly.