Forty is a sacred number in the Bible. A generation was forty years. Issac and Esau married at forty. The Israelites wandered forty years in the wilderness. David and Solomon reigned forty years. Jesus spent forty days and nights in the desert prior to the formal beginning of his ministry. Twice forty was a ripe old age. Three times forty was the maximum span of life.

This year marks forty years since River Road Church Preschool Development Center began a weekday program of nurturing preschool-age children.

One of the pleasures of coming to work each day at River Road Church is the sight and sounds of children in our building and on our playgrounds. Two windows in my office overlook our main playground, and as I write these words I am being serenaded by shrieks, high-pitched conversations and other sounds of play.

This play area happens to back up to our Columbarium, which is a happy accident. It is a symbolic reminder that our ministry encompasses the cradle to the grave, and our message is about life, abundant now and eventually eternal.

Our preschool is blessed with loyal, capable teachers and administrators, many of whom have worked here for years under the outstanding direction of Margaret Collins. We do not suffer from a lagging enrollment as some area preschools do, because we have the enviable combination of quality program, teaching excellence and handsome facilities. It is little wonder that in 2008 our preschool was named “National Preschool of the Year” by the National Association of Childcare Professionals.

It delights me when someone in our community volunteers that “my children attended preschool at your church.” More often these days a young adult says “I attended your preschool.” For parents and alumnae alike the memories of their days here are positive.

We cannot be a great church unless we are a welcoming church. One of the ways we welcome people to our church is through the doors of our Preschool Development Center. It is an extension of our ministry worth celebrating.