Church. It's a place for the brokenhearted and the redeemed; a place for the newest babes and the oldest saints; it's a place where people go to feel safe, a place they trust won't abuse its power or take advantage of them when they're weak. The story of churches doing the latter isn't new, but this time, it hit close to home.
Hopkinsville First United Methodist Church is a pillar in the community. The stately stone structure has stood tall at the center of town for more than one hundred years. Thousands of families and local officials have worshipped there, with many of them leaving their children under the tutelage of the church day care.
It's not uncommon for churches to operate day care centers where parents are assured their little ones are receiving sound Biblical instruction and guidance in a nurturing environment before they are sent out into the real world.
When churches and day care centers breach the safety of children and the trust of parents, it's a long haul to regain it, but they must be held accountable like any other business or public entity.
FUMC Daycare, just like any other company that has faced legal woes, will have to do everything it can to reestablish itself as a reputable business in the community.
Over the past seven months, the day care has had two directors come and go, three staffers charged with child abuse or complicity to abuse, including the senior pastor, and multiple investigations by the Hopkinsville Police Department and the state Division of Regulated Child Care.
Day care parents were informed by the church about the latest investigation, in which the director admitted to using corporal punishment to discipline two 4-year-olds, leading the DRCC to suspend the day care from operating for a short time. And, rightfully so. We applaud the church for being transparent, but full disclosure does not absolve the law.
There's a lot at stake in this sad situation, positions, status, church membership, day care attendance and a host of other intangibles. However, the most important loss here is trust and safety. Children are the innocent ones stuck in the middle of it all, and it's everyone's responsibility that they remain unharmed in the midst.