After more than 30 years in operation, Abundant Life Church will be closing the doors of its daycare and preschool.

After more than 30 years in operation, Abundant Life Church will be closing the doors of its daycare and preschool.

The closures are scheduled to take place at the end of the day on Jan. 10, 2014, according to Lead Pastor Ken Robinson.

"It's been one of the toughest decisions that we have ever had to make," Robinson said.

He said both the preschool and daycare have been existence since shortly after the church opened 33 years ago.

Currently, the daycare is licensed to care for up to 83 children, though Robinson said the number of children in attendance never reaches full capacity.
He said the smaller groups are in attendance in the morning and that number swells in the afternoon.

"There's a lot to it, it's not an easy answer," Robinson said of the upcoming closure. "The daycare has been a great outreach, a great service to the community."

Robinson said there are several factors that went into the difficult decision, including facility, liability, safety and financial concerns.
He said the church worked with a Dallas, Texas-based company to do an extensive evaluation of the church, including of areas such as facilities and finances.

Of the company's recommendations was that the youth and children’s ministries be relocated to the current daycare area, after remodeling is done, to help make those ministries more secure.

He said the church is not doing poorly financially, but over time the daycare has become more and more expensive to operate.

“I’ve pastored for 37 years and it’s the most difficult decision we have ever had to make because we know how hard it is,” Robinson said. “But there comes a point in time where we can’t manage it all the way it needs to be and it’s getting harder and harder because of government cutting back more and more. That makes less and less income for them to work with and that means more and more sometimes that the church has to put in.”

He said the church’s daycare and preschool are not state-sponsored, but do qualify for some subsidies, such as food program money and state pay, which usually comes in less than the daycare’s private pay price.  

He said the closure of a church daycare is not unique to Neosho, as he has heard of several church daycares left with no other option than to shut their doors, due in part to the liability issues tied with operating the program in a church.

“We felt like our priority was, we’re here to exist as a church, we’ve got to maintain who we are as a church and what we do as a church,” Robinson said.

Robinson issued a letter to parents of children enrolled in the church’s preschool and daycare programs on Nov. 21, after the church’s board of directors voted to pursue the closure.

Robinson said the church has tried to allow as much time as possible for parents to make other arrangements.

“As we plan for the future of Abundant Life we had to make some tough decisions regarding how we use the current resources at hand,” Robinson wrote in a letter to parents. “The decision was tough and wrenching, but the board feels that for the long term health of the church the decision was necessary in order to minister in a more complete way to our community.”