Cape church withdraws request to add day care

Sunday, July 15, 2007

A Cape Girardeau church has withdrawn its request to build a day-care center.

Residents living near Christ Church of the Heartland opposed the plan, part of a church expansion started more than a year ago at 720 Bertling St.

On July 2, the church's law firm, Lowes & Drusch of Cape Girardeau, faxed a letter to the city saying the request for a special-use permit was being withdrawn.

The letter stated the church was reconsidering whether it would pursue a day-care ministry, adding "the Church believes that additional opportunity to dialogue with its neighbors would be in their best interests of the community as a whole."

Sylvan Lane resident Marion Young said she was happy about the withdrawal.

"I think we have enough day-care centers and public school programs," she said.

Young's neighbors, Joan and Gerald Jones, campaigned against the expansion.

Gerald Jones said he did not want to see what he called a commercial enterprise run by a church.

"None of us are against a church and a religion growing," Joan Jones said.

"We are not here to disrupt our neighbors," said the Rev. Zack Strong, who described his church as independent charismatic Pentecostal. "There's a great need for day care and Christian education. What greater place can you start?"

He said it was "very possible" the church would resume pursuing a day-care center after talks with residents.

He said not talking with residents early on "maybe was a failure on our part." He had no formal plans yet for fostering discussion.

Mitch Dacus, 28, lives nearby on Green Acres Drive with his wife and three children, ages 5 though 9. He had not heard about the proposed day-care center but said affordable day care is hard to find in Cape Girardeau, especially for families like his. He works selling siding and construction materials while his wife pursues a nursing degree at Southeast Missouri University.

He said he wasn't sure if the church's day-care center would fit his family's needs.

"We struggle with it so much, eventually we just roll with the punches," he said.

335-6611, extension 127

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