By Anjanette Barr
Until recently, children at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Juneau enjoyed gathering in front of the church at a small outdoor castle structure to play after Mass. My children especially appreciated the opportunity to jump and climb after an hour of being more-or-less successfully focused and engaged indoors.
Earlier this year when Greg and Annie Albrecht noticed that the castle had been damaged and removed, the two St. Paul’s parishioners (who have three young children) decided to investigate the possibility of creating an even bigger and better play area for the church. They envisioned it as a tool for fostering community and wanted a space that families could utilize together while participating in ministries like the monthly Marriage Enrichment nights that they lead.
This would not have been the first large play structure at St. Paul’s. Director of Religious Education, Kimber Watt, remembers there being a playset with a tire swing where the parking lot now sits when she arrived in Juneau as a child in 1998. However, nothing that large has been constructed since the new church was built, and it took some time to determine if the new playset they proposed required any special considerations.
Upon approval, the St. Paul’s community responded generously and donated enough to cover much of the expense in just two weekends. The Albrechts were able to purchase the playset and assemble it with the generous help of a group of men from St. Paul’s on May 25th, and the children who once so loved the little castle have a new favorite place to play.
One St. Paul’s parishioner, Louise Miller, told me in conversation that she has supported the idea of a new playset for years. Her reaction to this one blessed me as a mother of four when she said, “I’m so happy that it is there. It sends the message that we are a church that cares about our littles.”