A sad and unnecessary end for Grace Christian Daycare
It was with regret that I recently announced that Grace Christian Daycare in North Branch, NY had to close its doors and terminate operations on Friday, December 1. My home congregation of Christ Lutheran Church in Belmont, MA—a western suburb of Boston—purchased the house and opened the daycare in 2013 as a mission endeavor to help Grace Lutheran Church in North Branch. Sadly, that has not worked out.
We first learned of Grace in February of 2011, when the Metropolitan New York Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America suddenly seized and shuttered Grace’s property to liquidate its assets for their coffers. This same thing happened to our Belmont congregation at the hands of the New England Synod, ELCA a decade earlier.
In Belmont we fought off Synod’s attempts to force our closure, won our freedom, and opened a Christian daycare to fill a growing need in the western suburbs of Boston. We were blessed with much success and had considerable profits to help other congregations succeed as we did. We offered our services to Grace, but not just to have them ‘die another day’ due to dwindling and aging membership. This was why the Metro New York Synod had closed them forcibly. Rather, we offered to help them renew their mission with a daycare ministry to promote child and family services that proved to be a boon for us in Belmont.
So Christ, Belmont purchased the house next door to the church to serve as a parsonage and open a Christian daycare that would move into the basement of the church once the church was free from Synod. At length we did help them win their freedom—in large part because of the initiative we showed in developing the daycare and other family and childcare ministries.
But once the congregation was freed by Synod, they turned on us and rejected any move of the daycare into the church or any purchase of the property and operation, which had long been the mutually agreed-upon vision and goal. So we of Christ, Belmont were stuck.
That was in September 2015, and since then we’ve tried to find another who would purchase the property and daycare operation to end our involvement, but with no success. Now we must close, because our work here is done. We will market the house and property through a realtor to whomever will buy it, whether they choose to run it as a daycare or not.
The people of Christ, Belmont, and I wish to thank all who supported our efforts through the four-and-a-half years we operated Grace Christian Daycare. We wish area residents Godspeed in finding or establishing an alternative for quality, full-time daycare, for which there is growing need.
[Rev. Dr. Norman F. David is the pastor and administrator of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church of Belmont, MA.]