A vision to launch a child development center at a local church will become a reality this coming week as it opens.
The First Baptist Church Longview Child Development Center will open Monday.
"You do ministry by doing God's will," said Larnzy Carpenter Jr., the church's pastor, adding the Lord gave him the vision for the center a couple of years ago.
There are three phases God has shown Carpenter for the church, with the first being the completion of the sanctuary building, the second being the child development center and the third being a life center.
"Our focus is not on the church, it's on the community, the people," Carpenter said. "... That's the responsibility of the church, to reach out to the community. We're just trying to build up the community and live in harmony with those around us."
Sarah Hathorn, director of the center, holds a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Mississippi State University. She taught in the Neshoba County School District for five years in kindergarten and first grade in the Oktibbeha County School District for three years. She also worked as a caregiver in First Presbyterian Day Care in Starkville for two summers.
Hathorn is a licensed director, which includes CPR training.
"She stepped out on faith to be able to carry out this vision," Carpenter said. "I thank God for this church, who has been supportive of this vision."
Hathorn said: "I believe God is leading me to branch out and challenge me. I've always had a passion for teaching. ... They teach me something as well."
The curriculum will be balanced, "teaching biblical principles" as well as core values and it will aid in "entrance into school by teaching pre-requisite skills," Hathorn said.
"I hope that we can provide increased parental involvement," she said, by having parents come in and volunteer in the classroom and on field trips, then possibly have parent night and special programs such as at holiday times with such activities as plays and parties.
Hathorn and Carpenter addressed efforts to maintain safety at the center.
Trusted adults will be around to monitor the grounds and organizers have conducted background checks on staff and regular volunteers, Carpenter said.
Hathorn says those affiliated with the center have applied for a grant which would be applied at least in part toward a security system and any visitors and parents will have to sign in and sign out.
"We know this is a God-given vision. ... Children ... are a gift from God and God has given us permission to be good stewards of these gifts," Carpenter said.
There is a word about FBC Longview and this child development center, Carpenter said, with Hathorn responding: "It's love – for God and other people."
Enrollment is open and will remain so until the center's capacity of 27 children is met, she said, adding that the center will accept children ages 2 through 5.
Hours of operation are 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
First Baptist Church Longview is located at 1801 Longview Road.
For information, call 324-6191.