You may hear the sound of little voices projecting glee and laughter through the halls of St. Philip’s these days. Our children and families have much to be thankful for as we begin Worship With Us, Church School, and Comfy Space Services this year. As returning and new families make their way into the Children’s Center, they will encounter the first phase of an incredible face-lift the space is undergoing. As one walks through the nursery, classrooms, and Children’s Chapel, the transformation is palpable. The fresh smell of new carpet, paint, and flooring lingers. The newly organized space shows the dedication and intent of the children’s ministry staff and laity.
The Children’s Center was quickly reaching a dilapidated state after years of nurturing, story-telling, singing, dancing, and learning about the power of the Jesus in little lives. The Vestry had a meeting in the Children’s Chapel last year and noted the need for change. At the same time, the 75th Anniversary Committee dedicated some of the funds it raised to nursery refurbishment. The seed had been planted, but it was evident that the space needed a complete overhaul. Such work required substantial funding.
And then, just like that, the Lord heard our prayer.
The children were sent a guardian angel from our congregation by the name of James Kautz. Because of his generosity, our kids have a new and improved place to grow and discover the power of the Holy Spirit. Mr. Kautz had been in conversation with the Rector about projects that needed funding at St. Philip’s. When the Children’s Center was mentioned, he embraced the need to create a more pleasant environment for our children while making it possible to welcome new families. He was also keen on the long-term strategic value in growing the ministry by providing an updated space. The Kautz Family Foundation, with the advocacy of Mr. Kautz, generously underwrote all of the improvements you see in the classrooms, chapel, kitchen, and sections of the nursery.
The concept, design, and implementation of the renovation could not have happened without the leadership of staff member Bruce Phillips. Bruce kept in contact with Mr. Kautz and convened a group of parishioners to gather input about what parents envisioned for the space. He also approached Liz Ryan, a professional designer and member of our congregation, who was enthusiastic about the project and helpful regarding the scope of what a complete renovation would entail. Our thanks go out in plenty to Ms. Ryan, for donating her time and professional expertise. Her proposed designs and material suggestions were perfectly aligned with the suggestions and input gathered from all who contributed. Phase one became a reality in August 2012.
I urge you all to make your way to the Children’s Center and see the exciting changes our kids are experiencing every Sunday and that the After School Program participants enjoy every weekday. We have continuing work to do as we envision more upgrades to the space and courtyard. Our little ones are the future of the parish, and we hope God is revealed to them through community at St. Philip’s In The Hills. As Jesus said “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.” Matthew 11:25-26.
—Will & Lily’s Mom, Annie Barrett