“Connecting with your Community Through Childcare” is the focus of a conference to be held April 29-May 1 in St. Paul, Minn. Lodging and most sessions will be held at the Hilton Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport.
The conference is sponsored by the Open Arms Institute and is co-hosted by Eastern Heights Lutheran Church, St. Paul. The congregation operates an Open Arms ministry that serves more than 85 children, providing infants to 5-year-olds with a full-time child development program, and 6- to 12-year-olds with before-and-after-school care.
At the conference, Eastern Heights Pastor Rev. Steve Benson and Open Arms Director Michelle Emmons will share the story of their three-year-old ministry, and discuss how the child care program has been helpful in reaching families in their community and revitalizing the 62-year-old congregation.
“We believe that our Open Arms Christian Child Development Center will be a cornerstone in our congregational revitalization,” Benson said. “Not only are we becoming a blessing to our community, but we are finding opportunities to reach out to families with baptism, Sunday school, and one-on-one ministry.
“The Open Arms Institute is providing a tool to reach families with the saving name of our Savior Jesus Christ,” he added.
Conference sessions will address church planting with child care, and offer information about the process of starting a child care ministry as an outreach strategy for an existing congregation.
It is designed for pastors, lay leaders, child care and school leaders, and district staff. Those interested in attending are encouraged to bring a team of representatives because of the range and depth of the information offered, according to Martin Barlau, director of the Loveland, Colo.-based Open Arms Institute.
“The pastor, congregational leaders, and someone with interest or experience in Christian early childhood education make an excellent team,” Barlau said. He noted that registration is free for the fourth member of a team.
Registrations mailed by April 19 are $215 for Open Arms members, and $290 for non-members, and include most meals. Registration after that date is $300 for members, and $375 for non-members. Some scholarship funding is available.
About 60 LCMS congregations have started child care programs related to Open Arms, according to Barlau. And half of those were started in conjunction with mission congregations, he says.
More information about the conference, including registration and scholarship forms, is available at http://openarmsinstitute.com (click on “Conferences”). Or, contact the institute at 970-667-3249 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted Feb. 10, 2010