This Spring our congregation, through our Council, began conversation with a childcare center, Gretchen’s House, about the possibility of a partnership. That relationship has been formalized and Gretchen’s House is anticipating opening at the start of 2024.

This is an exciting development for our space, our congregation, and the wider community. The partnership with Gretchen’s House is one that your Council has diligently discerned. We recognize that our name, our building, and our people will be connected to their center and its work. We share a stake in this leap of faith.

As our leadership has navigated the past few months of conversations, we have deeply valued getting to know Gretchen’s House’s leadership team. There has been open and honest communication about needs and concerns. Yet more significantly, we believe that there are a host of excellent reasons to partner with Gretchen’s House:

  • Their centers are licensed by the state of Michigan and accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children(NAEYC), an accrediting body that is known for holding the highest standards in early childhood care (with over 130,000 child care centers operating in the US, only 5% have met the NAEYC accreditation requirements).
  • Their staff are professional early childhood educators, who are college educated and expected to participate in ongoing training. They are paid living wages with full benefits.
  • They are an inclusive organization (e.g. they use gender inclusive language in the classroom), which aligns well with Messiah’s identity as Reconciling in Christ.

Looking toward these changes, here are some answers to a few questions we've heard asked in our community.

  • “Will we have access to the elevator and hallway?” Yes, we will. The hallway will be closed to us during their operating hours (7:30 am to 5:30 pm, Monday through Friday). It will be available to us evenings and weekends. The elevator will always be accessible from the atrium and Magnuson Hall levels. This means that during their operating hours, the elevator will need to be accessed from the atrium level (the closet handicapped entrance to the elevator in the atrium is the entrance under the carport to the south of the building).
  • “When will renovations and changes begin?” Renovation plans will be reviewed for approval by Council and the hope is that renovations will start by the end of this month. We have already begun shifting our space use in preparation for that work. Playground and outdoor spaces likely won’t be renovated/constructed until Spring or Summer of 2024.
  • “I heard this center is connected to Northern Michigan University (NMU). What does that mean?” The center is entirely owned and operated by Gretchen’s House, and that is who Messiah has a lease with. Gretchen’s House has a contract with NMU which subsidizes the cost of childcare for NMU faculty and staff. Specifics regarding rates and enrollment should be directed to Gretchen's House. If you are a Messiah member, please referennce that when contacting them.
  • “I have kids or know someone with children and am interested in learning more. How do I do that?” Gretchen’s House will have more information to share soon but mark your calendars for an open house at Messiah on October 17th, 11am-1pm. Anyone interested in enrolling children is invited to come to learn more.
  • “I’ve heard the costs are high. Will this be affordable for those in our Marquette community?” Cost is a big consideration. There are resources available through the Tri-share program (operated through the Marquette-Alger Regional Educational Services Agency [MARESA]) and the Child Development and Care (CDC) program run by the state. For those who meet the criteria, both programs can reduce the cost by as much as two-thirds, making Gretchen’s House (and other childcare options) accessible to low- and middle- income families.

For more information about Gretchen’s House, visit their website. Questions regarding cost and enrollment will need to be directed to the staff/administrators of Gretchen’s House directly.

At Messiah we seek to “answer God’s call to love” and this partnership with Gretchen’s House is a new way for us to do so. Indeed, as 1 John 3 reminds us, “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God, and that is what we are.”