Easley churches come together to preserve childcare ministry

More than 200 families will continue to have access to Christian-based childcare and educational development, thanks to a recent agreement between two churches in Easley.

Geer Memorial Baptist Church and Easley First Baptist Church, less than two miles apart, merged their child development centers in December. The newly combined center, which serves 275 children and employs more than 50 people, is housed at Geer Memorial Church.

“We’re excited to have the childhood development center here,” said Phillip McAlister, pastor of Geer Memorial. “We see this as a ministry. It’s a great opportunity to minister to the children and their families, many of whom are unchurched.”

John Adams, pastor of Easley First Baptist, said he believes combining his church’s center with Geer Memorial’s was “divinely orchestrated.”

“This is an extremely beautiful gift from God,” said Adams. “It provides children with a Christ-centered place of education, and it provides an opportunity for teachers who are called by God to live out that calling.”

Both Adams and McAlister said the discussions between the two churches in the months leading up to the merger were marked by cooperation and cordiality. On the day after Thanksgiving, members from both churches came together to move equipment, furniture and supplies from Easley First to Geer Memorial.

“This was two churches coming together to be the Church with a capital C,” said Adams.

The relocation of Easley First’s child development center became necessary when the church embarked on a facilities expansion plan but couldn’t fund the extra $2 million necessary to replace the child development center that would be demolished in the process.

Enter Geer Memorial. Jerry Gilstrap, a longtime member of Geer Memorial who also happens to serve as building superintendent at Easley First, suggested that Geer Memorial might be available to house the combined center. At the time, Geer Memorial was serving about 70 children at its child development center but had plenty of available space,

“God prompted me to tell Dr. Adams,” said Gilstrap, who serves on the childhood development council at his church. Gilstrap has worked at Easley First Baptist for 13 years and said that God perhaps put him there just for this purpose.

“More than 225 families are coming to Geer Memorial’s doorstep through this child development center,” said Gilstrap. “This is a mission field. The door is open if God wants us to walk through it.”