The nursery space at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church underwent a renovation over the summer, to not only refresh the space, but also for safety reasons.

In addition to the renovation, which was funded through seed money by a trio of memorials left to the church, and with the help of the congregation, money raised was used also for KidCheck, a children’s check-in system that also will be used to check-in youth during the church’s LifePath Wednesdays program.

What was once a room in need of renovation is now, “The Dock,” based on a verse from the gospel of Luke.

“We started out with a group of people who prayed together, and then we started dreaming about how God might transform that space,” said Pastor John Schlicher. “The foundational scripture for the project is Luke 8:22-25, where Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Let’s get into the boat and go to the other side.’ With Defiance being a river town, we enjoyed playing with that metaphor.

“That’s why we made the theme for the nursery, ‘The Dock,’ it’s that entry point into the faith journey,” continued Schlicher. “We wanted to make it a place the kids love to come to, and can’t wait to get back to when they leave. The first time it was open, a young boy was playing when his parents came to get him after church, and he was upset because he didn’t want to leave. I guess that means we hit the mark.”

The budget for the project was $4,000, with the seed money provided by memorials from Vesta King, Joan Warnimont and Myrle Hinesman. In addition, the United Methodist Women held a “Baby Shower” July 14 in which members of the congregation could help pay for the new equipment for the space (a registry was set up through Walmart).

The plans called for putting in a new ceiling, new drywall, new paint, new furniture and new play equipment. A door at the front of the space was closed in, and now a “boat” built into the wall with a check-in window is in its place. A wall adjacent to the restroom received new drywall as well. Currently there are 4-8 children from infants to age 4 that use the space each Sunday.

“As a church, we follow all state sanctuary policies, so that means this space was intentionally designed, and is staffed, for the safety and protection of our children,” said Schlicher. “Closing off this door (in the front of the nursery), eliminated the possibility of children running out and going out the side door of the church out to the street. That was always a concern.

“With the addition of the KidCheck system, we now have the ability to see who exactly is checking into the nursery, or who is checking in on Wednesday nights (for the LifePath program), where they are supposed to be, and who is overseeing them. That’s what we really like about this system, having that app that allows us to track all of that.”

How the system works is, a parent/guardian creates a free online account for each child that includes his/her name, age, allergies, health issues, etc ..., and once set up, the parent/guardian can check in a child by using a scan card, or by punching his/her cellphone number into a touch screen. Once a child is checked in, the space in the church where that child is supposed to go is displayed.

Scott Lee, financial administrator for the church, gave credit to the congregation for its generosity in making the project a reality.

“Pastor John developed a wish board that had envelopes for different toys and items needed for the nursery, and people could put money into those envelopes to pay for a portion of, or all of, what was needed,” said Lee. “When the money for a certain item became available, it was purchased. Everything we did was covered by the congregation, they went above and beyond.”

Added Schlicher: “The renovation has really refreshed the nursery team. We have a staff member who is a childcare specialist, we have a director of the ministry, and we have 14 volunteers, which is a tremendous increase from what we had before. There truly is a renewed passion for the children’s ministry.”

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