During the last eighteen months, First Presbyterian Church of Orlando has been in the process of evaluating our strategic direction and vision. As our church leaders continue to work to align our ministries to the mission of the church, we have had to make some difficult decisions regarding the future of several existing ministries under our care.
As part of this process, the elders of our Session (the church’s governing board) made a decision to eliminate four existing ministries: The Magnolia Preschool, Fitness at First, MusikGarten, and FOUR12.
Over the years, we have seen God use these ministries in transformative ways, and we are grateful for the season of ministry they have each sustained. We are thankful that we have been able to serve the city in these ways, but we must acknowledge the services we are providing no longer align with the church’s areas of focus in this season. This decision is not an easy one; it was made after much prayer and consideration, realizing that many people we care about would be affected. Mission alignment can be hard, but is a necessary activity for all healthy and forward-moving institutions.
Another critical consideration for our church is stewardship: these ministries are supported through our budget, making them unsustainable in light of our new priorities.
Every effort will be made to care for the staff directly affected by this transition. This decision by the Session in no way reflects upon the staff’s commitment, passion, or hard work.
The Magnolia Preschool
The Magnolia Preschool is scheduled to close in August of 2019.
Knowing this change would be disruptive for our Magnolia families, we want to give as much time as possible to make preparations and help children transition well. In addition, we have a plan to assist The Magnolia Preschool staff and teachers with placement for future employment.
Over the years, The Magnolia Preschool has provided a safe and loving school beginning for hundreds of children and their families, and we are grateful to have been able to serve the city in this way. Though we celebrate the ways God has used this ministry to care for families, we must acknowledge we can no longer sustain the operations of a full-time, year-round childcare model.
When it was created over 40 years ago as the Infant Child Care Center, the school was designed to be a ministry-supported model and was a crucial way to serve Orlando’s working poor. Since then, both the clients we serve and the market for childcare in this city has changed dramatically.
FOUR12 mentoring ministry has been in the process of transition for some months now, recognizing that the specific need for what we do after school has really already changed in the Mercy Drive community.
During a specific season, FOUR12 met a very specific need in the Downtown and Mercy Drive communities. As schools and other local programs begun to engage students, offering greater incentives for participation in after-school programs like class credit, we have seen student involvement change. The great news is that students in the Mercy Drive neighborhood have more resources than ever to help them after school, and program leaders will work to help students make those connections with programs in their school or neighborhood. The program will wrap up in May 2019 at the close of the current school year.
Musikgarten is music curriculum offered at hundreds of locations around the world. We have been grateful to host it on our campus for many years, and have seen the fruit of this kind of music education for young children. We are encouraged to know that Musikgarten will still be available for families in the Orlando community through their larger program. Musikgarten’s current semester will continue at the church through Spring 2019.
Fitness at First
The Fitness Center will continue operations until July 26, 2019. Fitness at First has provided a safe and non-judgemental community focused on health and fitness Downtown, and God has used it to help nurture people both physically and spiritually. As the church looks toward the future, the operations of a year-round, full-time fitness center on our campus are not sustainable.