Happy 20th ATB&B!

by Mary Johnson, Director of Children's Ministries & ATB&B

Twenty years ago South Africa held its first interracial national election and Nelson Mandela was elected its president. Newt Gingrich was named Speaker of the House. Steven Spielberg won his first Oscar for Schindler's List. Tom Hanks won the Academy Award for Forrest Gump, and NYPD Blue and Frasier were the top TV shows. Major League baseball players went out on strike on August 13, so there was no World Series that year. AND......Gretchen Quinn's vision of a new ministry for Holy Comforter was realized when All Things Bright and Beautiful opened its door for the first time!

After many months in the planning with several parishioners including Barbara Rothrock, Mari Morgan, Emily Voit, Chris Wiedrich, and Sharon D'Arcy, the name proposed by Mari Morgan was selected and the effort was begun to recruit students. That first year, Sue Murphy joined the teaching staff, and Sue, along with Chris Wiedrich, began asking friends and neighbors to join the school.

Under Gretchen's loving guidance, ATB&B grew from a couple of classes and a handful of teachers that first year to 132 students and 13 teachers by the 10th year. Sue Murphy became the second director and continued the goal Gretchen had established: to become a preeminent Christian preschool in this community. Margaret Campbell, Jane Coley, and Cissy Crawford taught the Lambs Class. Below, you'll see Anne Heynen in one of the photos with Jane Coley. Anne Feeney found this preschool for her son Ian, and then daughter Helen. She joined the parish and has taught in the school since 2004. Today, Anne is the Assistant Director of All Things Bright and Beautiful.

As the result of the strong foundation laid by both Gretchen and Sue, I am privileged to serve as the third director of ATB&B. Without those who came before who have been directly involved with the school, in addition to the support of the parish community of Holy Comforter, we would not be able to celebrate the goal established so many years ago with the success we recognize at the beginning of our 20th year: enrollment at our maximum capacity of 140 students in 12 classes with a staff of 17 teachers. Indeed, a preeminent Christian preschool in this community.

All Things Bright and Beautiful has proven to be an ideal way for young families who are seeking a faith community to feel welcomed and comfortable joining the parish. From early days when the percentage of preschool families as members of the parish was very low, we now have over 24% of the preschool families who consider Holy Comforter their faith community.

As we begin this 20th year, we look forward to a number of events that will bring the ATB&B families and the parish as a whole together for a variety of events. The first one will be the Alleluia on the Avenue Outdoor Liturgy and Ice Cream Social on August 24. What a wonderful cause for celebration!