As you know, LMC’s Preschool Team has been exploring the possibility of a joint mission venture at Luther Memorial with Pilgrim Lutheran Church. As part of this venture, we’ve been floating feelers throughout the congregation at various times, including a summer 2014 survey and some intentional conversation at the autumn 2014 cottage meetings.
In addition to this, the Preschool Team set out a schedule of planned steps to be taken in early 2015 to see if a preschool is, in fact, feasible at Luther Memorial. These steps included continued conversation with Pilgrim over covenant terms, city and state inspections of our facilities and proposed upgrades, and internal discussion reflecting on the feedback we heard at the cottage meetings, congregational meeting, and through the summer survey.
Conversation, while mostly positive, has revealed that LMC is not of one mind on the idea of a preschool at this time. This is expected. A venture of this nature and of this scope will require long conversations and clarity to make happen. Even then we expect that not everyone will be on the same page.
Our goal as a team has been to investigate the possibility with an open mind and heart, allowing the Spirit to move freely even as we listen carefully to one another.
Here are the things that we do know:
– From our internal survey in the summer of 2014, the majority of respondents would be interested in having a preschool at LMC, and would refer a friend.
– With the closing of Waters and Coonley preschools, even with the new opening of private preschools in the Ravenswood/Lincoln Square neighborhood, there is a need for affordable options for preschool aged children in our mission area.
– While LMC’s facilities do not currently meet all of the needs to immediately open a preschool, upgrades would neither be vast nor totally cost-prohibitive, especially if folded into a capital campaign.
– While some within LMC are concerned about space allocation for a preschool, the proposed spaces to be used are mostly unoccupied during school hours, and with the renovation of some other spaces within the church, could be made free.
– LMC passed all city and state inspections with a few, mostly minor, recommendations for improvement.
Here are a few things that are still unclear:
– Even with proposed full enrollment (for full-day schooling), could the increased operational costs be handled by LMC?
– What exactly would LMC receive from tuition for this venture?
– Could the community get behind a mission/vision strategy, a capital campaign, and a campaign to start a preschool?
This last unknown is the sticking point for those of us on the Preschool Team. Because we feel that proposing a preschool at LMC at this particular time will be a stumbling block for the upcoming capital campaign, we are recommending that the preschool discussions between LMC and Pilgrim be suspended for now.
We, as a team, feel it is important to remain in partnership with Pilgrim (and to increase our ministry collaboration with them). We feel that we should remain open to this possibility for sometime in the future. We also recognize that a campaign to start this venture is unwise with all that is currently happening at LMC. It would distract rather than reinforce.
We feel confident that none of our work has gone to waste! With the inspections from the city we received many good suggested upgrades to our current space. Through our prayer and conversation we’ve seen new ways that we can partner with Pilgrim to do ministry in Chicago. Through our dreaming as a team, we’ve gained a good sense of our space usage and areas that we are currently under utilizing.
This sort of ministry venture at Luther Memorial is new territory for our faith community. God calls us to ventures of which we cannot see the ending. Though conversations are suspended at this time, the team does not feel this is the end of them, nor the end of dreaming how LMC can better serve God’s purpose for the city of Chicago.
Indeed, this is only the beginning as we discern how God is calling us to Rejoice, Reform, Renew, and Respond as a community!