This story originally appeared in Messenger. Subscribe to Messenger here.
Community hospitality is a key part of Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren’s identity. It has a large, accessible playground next door, hosts Meals on Wheels and various community events, and works with refugee resettlement. So when a local Christian school found itself without a home, the church opened its doors—and much of its building—to give it one.
Lititz Christian School learned in spring 2021 that it would lose its lease after the following school year, sending it scurrying to find a new space. An extensive search turned up nothing that fit its space and financial parameters, however. A member at Lititz Church of the Brethren is a middle school English teacher at the school and raised the need.
“She said, ‘This seems like a really crazy idea, but would the church consider . . . ,” Lititz pastor Jim Grossnickle-Batterton said. “We have a lot of space that goes unused six days a week, and we decided to see if it might be a temporary fix.”
The school had to reduce some of its programs to fit in the church’s space, but it signed a three-year lease, and the building’s rooms and halls are now filled with hundreds of students each week.
“They’ve basically taken over every square inch we would allow them,” Grossnickle-Batterton. said. “Any hour of the day, I can step outside my office now, and there are people buzzing around, lots of kids. It’s a part of our broader vision of trying to make room for the community here in our church.”