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St. John’s Child Development Center Main Street campus faces potential closure
St. John’s Child Development Center Main Street campus in Ellinwood.

ELLINWOOD — St. John’s Lutheran Church’s Child Development Center Main Street campus is facing possible closure. Issues related to funding and state fire code have led church leaders to consider the option of shuttering the Main Street campus, although a specific closure date has not been declared.

The church is the overseer of the center’s two campuses. The other campus is located at the church at 512 N. Wilhelm St. in Ellinwood.

“We put together a capital campaign a few years ago to construct a new building which would encompass a larger fellowship hall and our entire child development center,” said the Rev. Ken Abbott, associate pastor. “Unfortunately, we have not been able to raise the funds yet to break ground or to move forward with that project.”

Abbott also said improvements are needed to the Main Street facility based on fire code inspection and medical services.

“We have discussed multiple different options including constructing a smaller building here on the church campus so we would have our entire center at the church,” said Abbott. “Based on the lack of funding, the congregation elected not to move forward with a new building at this time.”

Abbott noted that the church is exploring restructuring to combine both centers into the current building on Wilhelm Street, which is licensed for children 3 years of age and older. “Again, we are seeking other options but getting a cost total for the improvements will provide us a clearer picture in terms of how we move forward,” said Abbott. “There has been a large outcry from our community for the support of the center as it has offered services but right now we need hard numbers to find out what it will take to modify the Main Street facility.”

He said the goal is to continue to offer preschool and childcare for the community, although it might take on a different look. If the Main Street campus closes, it would affect childcare under age 3. Until exact figures are presented, Abbott said any fundraising efforts will have to be put on hold.

“We have to see those numbers to see if this is achievable,” he said. “It has been a mission of this church for 26 years to offer this service to the community.” Abbott added that the church is a significant financial supporter of the center every year to keep it operational.

“The center has been a huge asset to our community,” said Holly Bowyer, whose children attended the Main Street facility. “Having a place to take children during the day while parents work outside the home is vital. Not only does this center care for the children, it prepares the children for school,” she said.