By Heather Moery
Special to The Sun
Throughout its 50 years, the First Christian Church Childcare Center Ministry in Edmond has opened its doors to thousands of children.
To celebrate the milestone, the First Christian Church will have a celebration for the child care center’s 50th anniversary at 11 a.m. Sunday.
The child care center, which according to the Department of Human Services’ records was Oklahoma’s first licensed center in the state, has seen many changes since it first began Sept. 20, 1963.
It was called the Nursery Kindergarten School back in 1963. In its first year, there were 55 children in the nursery and 44 in the kindergarten class. The cost for each child per month was only $15.
Edmond businessman Mark Neighbors was a kindergarten student in the Nursery Kindergarten School’s first class from 1963-64.
“It was a good kindergarten,” Neighbors said. “I remember I had fun there.”
When surrounding public schools began offering kindergarten classes in 1968, the Nursery Kindergarten School became a day care and child care center. In 1989, the center bought its first bus and started its own transportation. Then, in 1996, the center was renovated and remodeled inside and out. The center was expanded in 2004 and the center increased its student population by 40 percent. Today, the child care center has 190 students and there are currently 175 children on the waiting list.
Chris Shorow, Senior Minister with the First Christian Church, said the child care center’s main priority has always been to provide affordable child care to the community.
“That’s what the original mission was,” Shorow said.
Shorow said many of the center’s students are second, sometimes even third, generation students and there’s a reason why people keep coming back.
“We created a sense of family here,” Shorow said. “That kind of relationship is important. Like the teachers … they do so much more than just teach. The bottom line is to take care of the kids and do it for the right reasons.”
Jeremy Miller, director of First Christian Church Childcare Center Ministries, is a past student himself, attending the center from 1982 to 1985. His future stepdaughter, 3-year-old Ella Morgan, currently attends the center.
“I want people to understand our mission,” Miller said. “This a safe place to grow and learn. The children are the reason I’m here. I also look for people that have a dream to see them grow.”
Sunday’s service, which begins at 11 a.m., will be about children. During the reception at noon, scrapbooks containing photos, past letters to parents, old records and stories of the center will be displayed on tables. A slideshow also will be presented during the reception. Teachers from years past are expected to be in attendance. Cake and punch will be served as well.
The First Christian Church is at 201 E. Second St. in Edmond.