An unusual model of church ministry

Each Monday morning, workers at Westminster Presbyterian Church cover up the religious imagery inside a few Sunday school classrooms to create a more welcoming space for their weekday occupants — young children of diverse faiths receiving group therapy.

An entire section of this landmark church building in downtown Minneapolis now houses a child health and development facility. Walk the hallways and you’ll find children getting speech therapy, physical therapy, mental health assessments and participating in an autism treatment program for East African youngsters.

While many churches house or operate child care centers, this type of partnership between Westminster and St. David’s Center for Child & Family Development is rare. Westminster spent more than $2 million to construct a beautiful addition for a nonprofit tenant during a recent renovation, and the diverse staff at each facility say it has been a mutually beneficial arrangement.

“We’re involved in a lot of community work but we’ve never done that work on site,” said the Rev. Tim Hart-Andersen, senior pastor at Westminster. “There’s something about having a mission partner working alongside us that is a wonderful experience. You see the difference the church is making right on site.”

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