Whitesburg Baptist Church leaders have announced that the church will close all its weekday programs, effective May 31. This includes Weekday Early Education Daycare, Half Daycare, Mother’s Day Out and Pathfinder Summer Camp Programs.
“This closure of this programming will provide us the opportunity to address facility issues and also to re-align space usage for a greater level of effectiveness in accomplishing our vision and mission as a church,” the letter states.
A parent, Paige Schultz, said she is scrambling after learning they have about two months to find a new place for their kids.
"It was a kick in the gut. It felt like a death in the family not being able to see these teachers that raised my children since the time they were little," she said.
She has three kids who attend the church's weekday programs. The church said it has 165 kids total in its programs.
"They don't have a place to go, and I'm just really sad this can't be done a different way," Schultz said.
She started a petition to see if the church's senior pastor would change his mind about the closure. More than 100 parents have signed that petition, but Senior Pastor Darryl Craft said it will likely have little impact on the outcome.
"We try to lead with vision and prayer and seeking God's wisdom for our church. Our leadership comes from where the Lord is taking it. I appreciate where their thoughts were coming making that, but it's not likely a petition is going to alter our decision," he said.
Craft came into leadership at the church about six months ago and said there are bigger plans in place. Part of the plan is needing to renovate the space where the weekday programs take place, since it's been around for about 60 years.
"We're reallocating, renovating and reusing that space, and bringing it up to a greater level of excellency," Craft said.
Parents wish the decision hadn't been so sudden.
"If that's his decision, then I respect it. I just wish he could work with us to gradually roll this out instead of closing his doors May 31," Schultz said.
For now, Pastor Craft said his decision is final.
"At this point, it is final until we go through this process and we evaluate if the Lord leads us in that same direction or not," he said.
Craft said the daycare director has been calling around all day trying to make other daycare programs in the area aware of what's happening to see if they can make room for the church's students.
The pastor did not know how many employees were losing their jobs because of the closure.