When last we checked in with Memorial Lutheran in Katy, flooding from Hurricane Harvey had destroyed their parsonage and old preschool, but spared the new preschool building that was just weeks away from completion. Not to mention that hundreds of families from the church were struggling with flood damage to their own homes. The obstacles to opening the new preschool seemed legion.
The work to rebuild from the storm was daunting to say the least. “From the church’s standpoint, we’ve had several missions going on,” says Carol Weaver, co-chairman of the Preschool Building committee, “rebuilding our church facilities, helping our flooded church families and the community, restarting preschool basic services, reopening our entire preschool under temporary conditions AND trying to get a temporary occupancy for our new building!”
But the staff and families did not get discouraged. Over the three weeks following the storm, they were able to progressively reopen the preschool to more and more families, using part of the still-intact Welcome Center for makeshift classrooms. At the same time, teachers, church staff, and volunteers sorted through all the damaged preschool materials and furniture to salvage what they could.
Meanwhile, the new preschool building still needed a Certificate of Occupancy in order to open its doors. The fire marshal and city of Katy worked very graciously with the Memorial Katy staff to make the permitting happen expediently.
On October 9 – just six days after the certificate came through and only six weeks after Harvey left the Houston area – Memorial Lutheran Preschool was able to open its doors in its new space. The building is being used for both preschool and other church activities as the small church is being restored. (The old preschool and parsonage unfortunately cannot be salvaged and are scheduled for demolition.)
Last Sunday, 350 people attended a combined dedication and celebration of the Reformation’s 500th anniversary. Festivities included a German coffee cake fellowship time, mini-cantata church service, dedication service and ribbon cutting, tours, a “first supper” in the new fellowship hall, and Disposition Service for the flooded parsonage and old preschool facility.
Weaver says the new building has made an enormous difference to the community. The new facility and expanded preschool offerings and hours have brought increased enrollment. The preschool is now open from 6:30 am–6 pm, giving working families greater flexibility. And during the afternoon, qualified church volunteers supplement the teachers’ curriculum with advanced curriculum in math, science, and Spanish. The new space also boasts a commercial kitchen, opening up greater possibilities for fellowship and events. “We are really seeing a mutual benefit for both our preschool and our congregation,” says Weaver.