by: Rick Swart, Deborah Christensen Liao and her daughter, Marissa, check out some of the new playground equipment at Grace Lutheran church in Scappoose. The church is putting the final touches on a new building it plans to use for a Christian-based daycare center and preschool.

Churches in small towns are not accustomed to making big financial moves.

Nevertheless, church leaders at Grace Lutheran Church have faith in their investment in a new building to house Grace Christian Preschool. Having an independent building to house the preschool was one of the goals of the founders of the preschool in 1991. A $200,000 investment including donations of labor, time and material by church members and local businesses finally culminated in the new 1,500 sq. foot facility, located next to the church in Scappoose. The new preschool will be christened on Sunday during a big grand opening celebration.

'Everybody is excited and supportive, but at the same time everybody is nervous,' said Gary Liao, a member of the preschool's board of directors.

Indeed, it may be one of the most ambitious efforts the church has undertaken in its 65-year history, according to Liao.

The idea behind the project is to offer a Christian-based daycare center and preschool open to the public. Currently, Grace Lutheran sponsors a preschool for 3- and 4-four-year-olds five days a week in its fellowship hall. There, almost 50 children in 4 separate classes spend two and a half hours a day building social, physical, academic and spiritual skills. The goal is to allow them to develop to their potential in a safe, friendly, caring Christian environment. It is also part of the church's mission of reaching out to the community.

The new facilities are much larger than the fellowship room and are more kid-friendly, decorated with hand painted murals and walls painted in bright primary colors - yellow, blue and red. Each of the two 25x25 ft. rooms has an adjoining kitchen, where snacks and meals can be prepared. Outside, the center has neatly landscaped playgrounds, equipped with new slides, climbers, crawl tubes and seesaws. Not only is the new space more conducive to teaching, it also frees up space in the fellowship hall that adults can put to use.

Down the road, the congregation plans to offer an all-day daycare center for 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds.

For more information, contact Grace Christian Preschool at 503-543-3153

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