The Lord is doing great things at Trinity Lutheran Darmstadt in Evansville. By the end of the year, a new parish hall of the church will open, which includes a fellowship hall, kitchen, offices, restrooms, and classrooms. Next fall, they will open an early childhood ministry in their day school building.
Lutheran education has had a long tradition at Trinity. In 1853, the church opened a one-room Lutheran school, which expanded and continued for over 150 years. In 2010, the school closed due to funding issues. In 2017, Trinity voted to reopen the school as an early childhood ministry offering preschool and childcare.
Rev. Stan Temme noted that the19:10 Project, a revitalization process with the Transforming Churches Network, was an important part of creating an outward-focused mission and ministry for the church. As part of the revitalization process, the church performed a self-study of their congregation. They also considered the assets they had to offer the community through a process Rev. Geoff Robinson, executive director of outreach and human care of the Indiana District, refers to as “asset mapping.”
In addition, the church completed the Genesis Project with the help of Dr. Jon Mielke, former executive counselor for Christian education, Mrs. Kathy Frank, early childhood consultant for the Indiana District, and LCMS consultant, Mr. Stu Tietz. Demographic studies from the project showed there were over 1700 children, ages 0-4, within a five-mile radius of the church. The congregation realized their vacant day school building could meet a vital need in the community, while providing a quality Lutheran education to young learners.
“The whole idea of the revitalization program is to make connections, develop relationships, and to give witness to the Gospel,” Rev. Stan Temme said. “We’re doing more than trying to open a preschool. We’re trying to reach the parents of the children as well. The preschool is more for the community and serving their needs, with the goal of teaching children the good news of Jesus Christ and witnessing to their parents.”
To help fund these new projects, the congregation established a Legacy Fund with guidance from Rev. Philip Krupski of the LCMS Foundation. The church also conducted a stewardship campaign and received a $50,000 new ministry initiative matching grant from the Indiana District.
With assistance from the Indiana District Education Department, the church also called Breenna Smith, an LCMS Commissioned Teacher, as the new director of the early childhood ministry. She was installed in September 2018.
Mrs. Smith is excited to open the preschool next year and to “fill the need for early childhood education.” She will spend her first year registering the ministry with the state, working with the church boards to renovate the facility, developing school policies and budgets, recruiting staff, selecting curriculum, and enrolling students. As director, she hopes to add one preschool class per year for the next four to five years.
Even though the early childhood ministry won’t open until fall 2019, the church has planned several community events to spread the word about the preschool. Mrs. Smith will use social media, outreach events, and open houses to reach new families.
“We began doing service projects and outreach events to make connections, including a trunk-or-treat, firemen’s dinner, and community festival where we gave parents information about the preschool,” Rev. Temme said. “We’re hoping to fill the halls with children, laughter, and the love of Jesus.”