I am posting this because I don't know how many of my friends from Fort Wayne or who used to live in Fort Wayne read my blog. I'm also reminiscing a little too...
I taught at Zion Lutheran Academy, Fort Wayne, IN from 1996-2003. I started teaching second grade and then taught first grade.
I read in their newsletter that 4 churches on the south end of Fort Wayne including Zion, Bethlehem, and the two churches that combine for Unity school are all combining to make one Lutheran school on the south end of Fort Wayne. Their hope is to open it by this fall. There is lots of planning happening now. I must stress that this has not been approved for sure by the churches. But it sounds like it is really going to happen.
The Zion members (past and present) knew this was happening for a long time. Financially they just can't afford to support a school staff with declining enrollment. Hopefully by combining they will be able to still offer Lutheran education on the south end of town and save lots of money by combining. Hopefully the classrooms will be full of children that want to have a Lutheran education instead of small classes. Financially they couldn't maintain the ancient school building any longer.
The problem is Fort Wayne as a city's problem. Most of the factory jobs are gone and not being replaced with new industries. It was a sad day with Lincoln Insurance moved so many of their staff that they eventually moved the Lincoln Museum too. The people that are left don't want to live on the south end of town because the media has made it sound unsafe. 40-50 years ago the south end of town was THE place to live. I'm not sure, but I think Bethlehem was the largest Lutheran school in Fort Wayne then too. My mom remembers trick or treating at some of the south side mansions because they got a whole candy bar there. Anyway, there just aren't as many people living on the south end of town as there were before.
Part of me is really sad that this day came even though I knew it was happening. Children are the life of the church and it's sad that they won't be worshiping in daily chapel at Zion any more. But part of me is excited that by combining they can still have a south side Lutheran school. It would be exciting to be part of the planning of a whole new school even if it is a lot of work.
I have great memories of my time at Zion and I will treasure those memories and continue to keep Zion church and her school (whether it is a combined school or her own) and her staff in my prayers daily.