[This is Part 3 of a 3 Part Series by Regional Minister Eugene James – read Parts 1 and 2 on the web blog.]
Dr. Gilliard identified quality day care as one of the significant needs in the community in his original target area in Grand Blanc and he determined that there was a similar need in the community around the Pasadena Avenue location in Flint, Michigan. In his ministry plan, he detailed the rationale for this being a ministry of the new church and the strategy that would be implemented to get a quality day care center established, staffed, and operating. The building on Pasadena Avenue proved to be well suited for the development of the day care center. There was plenty of space inside, but there was much work to be done to optimize the functionality of that space and meet the specifications required for certification.
There are stringent requirements for facilities and personnel that had to be met before certification for a day care center was granted. The building had great potential but it also presented enormous challenges to bring it up to standard. It would require a substantial financial investment. Ceiling space heaters had to be removed and three new furnaces were installed. Doors had to be replaced, renovations had to be made to rooms. All of this work had to pass inspection.
I have said in the past, to determine what is really important to a person simply follow the money. Dr. and Mrs. Gilliard have made a tremendous personal investment in the ministry of Triumphant Temple of Praise Christian Church. Because of their unselfish commitment and God’s blessings, funds were available. After a difficult year of frustration and perseverance, the work necessary to bring the building into compliance with the standards required for certification was completed. Just recently, the Lord sent an angel to TTOP who evaluated the lighting, installed new fixtures that were much more efficient, provided better lighting, and produced a savings on electricity costs. God honors and blesses faithfulness on the part of his people.
In February 2011, the Positive Start Child Development Center opened with a staff of two. Today the Center employs a staff of twelve that serves twenty-eight children in the day care program and fifteen in the pre-school program. Most of the referrals come from the Department of Human Services. The State of Michigan Great Start Readiness Program certifies the pre-school program.
Hunger is a major challenge for many of the children enrolled at the Center, having not eaten until they arrive for breakfast. To address this challenge, Positive Start has contracted with the Children and Adult Care Food Program, which enables the provision of three meals and two snacks to the children daily.
The progress with the Positive Start Child Development Center parallels the growth of the congregation. More and more persons are finding that Triumphant Temple of Praise Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) brings forth an environment where love abides, the welcome is warm and genuine, and there is no judgment. The Pastor is humble, skilled, caring, and compassionate and delights in the spiritual growth and development of those under his care.
One of the burdens of a dual use facility was converting from one use to the other. After the Worship Celebration ended, there was the task of moving everything to set up for Positive Start, which required a lot of work, particularly for Pastor Gilliard. The solution to this problem of the every Sunday conversion chore was not far away.
Pastor Gilliard began exploring the possibility of the church acquiring the building across the street. He had established an excellent rapport with the owner of the building, who holds him in very high regard. As they discussed the building, the owner expressed a desire to sell the building to the church. Negotiations began in earnest August 2013, with the owner agreeing to sell the property to the church on a land contract. The congregation made the down payment of $20,000.00 and closed on the property in the middle of September. Pastor Gilliard and the congregation are now in negotiation with Disciples Church Extension Fund to add the land contract to their current loan, giving them complete control of the building. There are two businesses that have leased sections of the building; having complete control will enable the church to receive the proceeds from those leases.
They went to work immediately to create a permanent worship space in the building and the congregation had its first Worship Celebration there in November 2013. The weekly conversion task had come to an end. The acquisition of the building provided the space for another service to the community envisioned by Pastor Gilliard.
He is aware of the need for a quality Adult Day Care center and is crafting the same type of carefully detailed business plan for this facility as he prepares for the Positive Start Child Development Center. It will be specifically for persons suffering from Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The Michigan Health Association will provide opportunities for publicity, particularly to caregivers in need of respite time. Pastor Gilliard has established a relationship with the Michigan Adult Day Service Association, and is preparing to connect with the National Adult Day Service Association as well. The church will be well positioned to begin providing services to the community when renovations to the newly acquired building have been completed and all inspections have occurred.
Pastor Frank Gilliard and the Triumphant Temple of Praise Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) have given credence to my new maxim: When excellent, inspired preparation converges with Divine opportunity, miracles will happen. Praise the Lord!