HAMPSTEAD — The new sanctuary at Faith Baptist Church will echo voices all week long, as day care programs for young and old share the space.
Under the same roof, the different generations will interact and learn tounderstand each other better, said the Rev. Bert Benz.
"We didn't think it was good stewardship to build a church building that sits empty most of the week," he said.
"A church should bea hospital for sinners and not a hall of fame for saints."
After founding church members bought the property off Harvey Gummel Road in1987, they thought of providing day care for children, said Gary Bauer, deacon at Faith Baptist. But as they surveyed area residents, members saw a need for adult day care and decided to provide both.
"Not senior adult day care (like at the South Carroll Adult Day Care Center in Eldersburg), but care for the medically disabled who are 18 or older," explained Benz. "A lot of people like that get lost betweenthe cracks."
Named Dayspring Estates for the Biblical passage in Luke's Gospel referring to Jesus as the "dayspring on high," the 16,500-square-foot building primarily will serve the day-care centers.
In the design drawn by the Southern Baptist Convention's architects in Nashville, Tenn., the sanctuary is to be viewed as somewhat incidental, Benz said.
"It took me a while to get (the architects) to understand what we wanted," Benz said. "They kept designing it like a Sunday school and I kept throwing it back saying, 'That's not what we want.' "
The building will be divided into three sections -- adultday care, child day care and the worship auditorium.
Adult care facilities will double as the church fellowship hall, and the six child care rooms -- each with a child-sized bathroom -- will be used for Sunday school classes.
The third section will not be used for day care services, Benz said.
"The finished product is very nice, and there won't be another church around like it."
Modeled after an adult care center in Towson, Baltimore County, Faith Baptist hopes to provide care for medically disabled people -- including stroke victims, brain-injured patients and those with Alzheimer's disease -- whose care givers must work outside the home.
"We won't have the capabilities for bed patients," Benz said. "We'd prefer people who were in wheelchairs or could walk in under their own power."
Participants will be dropped off in the morning and picked up in the evening. Center hours, based on demand, are tentatively set at 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
"When you compare the cost of a nurse coming in or nursing home care,it becomes a real bargain to have adult day care," Benz said.
Thetypical fee for adults would be $40 per day, but it would be chargedon a sliding scale so no one would be turned away, Benz said. Children's day care would be $110 per week for infants and $75 per week fortoilet-trained toddlers up to age 4.
"Our focus is a different approach to church, looking at community needs rather than just regularworship," Benz said.
Lunch, which would be prepared by a cook, would be a time for the children and adults to interact.
"It's sort of a mixing of the generations," said Benz. "It's the same kind of concept as adopt-a-grandparent, like in nursing homes."
Programs would be licensed by the state and directed by members of the church qualified to teach.
The children's coordinator would need 64 credit hours of classes in day care, and the adult program would be run by someone with administrative training and a bachelor's degree, Benz said.
Other state requirements include a registered nurse at the site and nutritional training for the cook so the meals meet one-third of the participants' daily nutritional requirements.
"Other staff positions don't require licensing," Benz said. "Somebody who has some experience working with senior citizens might be able to adapt to working with medically disabled adults."
Church members have divided the 17.75 acre property into three parcels -- a 2.1-acre lot and 4.8 acres with a farmhouse and outbuildings. The two residential plots havebeen recorded with the county and were listed for sale last week.
Financial support for the $1.1 million building should come from thesale of the subdivided lots; a county bank also has agreed to loan the church money, Benz said. Income from the day-care centers will help pay the mortgage.
Members of the 100-person congregation are expecting to break ground in late summer or early fall, Bauer said. The building should be finished nine months later.