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Ebenezer UMC Serves Growing Children, Growing Community

 

Ebenezer United Methodist Church is taking big steps to welcome its littlest guests, with a major renovation of its infant and toddler nursery wing.  The project, which doubles the space available for children ages three and under, exemplifies Ebenezer’s commitment to serve growing children and a growing community.           

“We’ve always been a church that focuses on families and ministering to children and building their faith,” explained Shari Parsons, Director of Children’s Ministries at Ebenezer.  “This takes it to the next level.”

Ebenezer’s campus borders the Embrey Mill development, one of the fastest-growing areas in Stafford County.  The 831-acre, master-planned community will eventually include nearly 2,000 new homes, significantly impacting local schools, businesses and places of worship.

“We’re anticipating a lot of growth over the next three to five years, and our nurseries were already at capacity at some services,” said Office Manager Vicki Stones.  “The idea for the nursery renovation came from a desire to reach young families in Stafford and provide an excellent experience for children and families.”

The nurseries previously shared a hallway with some administrative offices, but since the renovation, the entire wing is now devoted to infant and toddler care.  Visitors will notice the difference the moment they enter the space, which has been freshly painted in lively shades of green, orange and blue. 

The former infant nursery - located closest to the sanctuary - is now the Wiggle Room, where active kids are free to move around while their parents listen to worship services through an audio feed.  Books, toys, comfortable chairs and diaper changing facilities are all conveniently available.  A video feed is also in the works.

A newly remodeled bathroom leads to a spacious infant nursery for newborns through 12 months of age.  A private area for nursing mothers is also planned for this space.  Down the hall, two cheerful rooms have been outfitted just for toddlers - one for ages 12 to 18 months and the other for ages 18 to 24 months – with a shared bathroom in between.  A large room at the end of the hall provides plenty of space for energetic 24-36 month olds.

Each room is managed by a paid Kids Care staff member who has completed training, a background check and First Aid/CPR/AED certification.  A Kids Care Coordinator oversees all of the rooms and is readily available to assist parents.  Trained volunteer caregivers are also on hand to ensure optimal adult-to-child ratios for each age group.  They can even provide one-on-one care for special needs children if necessary.

Although clearly equipped for different ages and stages, the nurseries share several notable features.  They are all bright and welcoming, with colorful artwork on the walls and fresh curtains at the windows.  They are also furnished with wall-mounted flat-screen TV’s, DVD players and child-proof outlets. 

Visitors can expect even more welcoming changes by the end of October, when a new check-in center is completed inside the entrance to the nursery wing.  Plans call for enlarging the entry doors and removing an interior wall to create an open reception area where parents can conveniently sign in children of all ages for nursery care and Sunday School.   

Senior Pastor Mark Miller summed up Ebenezer’s dedication to family ministry in a recent sermon.  “We’re often told that children are the future, but long before children are the future, we are their future,” he explained.  “The seeds we plant, and the investment we make in children now, affect the future down the road.”

For more information about the new nursery wing and a complete list of children’s programs at Ebenezer, visit www.ebenezerumc.org/kidzrock or call 540-659-1349.

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Pouches' Community Corner

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The foundation has helped 44 hospitals in 22 states through their Treasured Memories program. The program sends nurses to bereavement training, and provides or supplements the $55 memory boxes that include clothes, booties, handknot blankets, pictures, foot prints, hand prints, clipped hair and other mementos.

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