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Feb5FriAn after-school program in Somerset, Bermuda, is meeting a community need. February 5, 2016 by Pamela Richardson
It's a sunny Tuesday afternoon in Somerset, Bermuda, and West End Community Church is bustling with activity. Carloads of children, most still dressed in their school uniforms, are arriving for Prime Time, an after-school program for children aged four to 14.
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Jam-packed with singing, dancing, Bible stories, crafts and outdoor games, Prime Time began more than 10 years ago and quickly became an integral part of the corps' Christian education program and overall outreach ministry to children and youth. Between the after-school program, Sunday school, a thriving puppet team ministry, and musical groups for children and youth, West End Community Church is an exciting place to be.
“How was your day?” asks Major Cindy Butler, corps officer and divisional children's ministries secretary for the Bermuda Division, as she kicks off today's Prime Time session. “Let's sing some of your favourite choruses!” Within seconds, suggestions come from all over the room and everyone joins in to praise God together. The enthusiasm continues as the children memorize James 1:5, the day's Scripture verse.
The success of Prime Time is due to the faithfulness of the leaders who organize the weekly program that hosts approximately 30 young people from the corps, other churches and surrounding neighbourhood. “We are blessed with great leaders here at West End Community Church,” says Major Curtis Butler, corps officer and divisional youth secretary for the Bermuda Division. “They provide good teaching and a spiritual foundation that comes through the songs, story time and activities.” The Prime Time leadership team includes Joanne Fubler, young people's sergeant-major, Leanne Hollis, assistant young people's sergeant-major, Julia Astwood, junior soldier sergeant, and Ashley Martinez.
In addition to its spiritual components, Prime Time provides practical support to the community surrounding the corps building. “This is a safe place to be after school,” Major Curtis Butler says. “That's something the neighbourhood needs. We have an opportunity to provide that at least one day a week.”
Astwood agrees. “Prime Time works,” she says, “and it makes an impact on our neighbours.”
To ensure that the children get to the church and home again, the leaders of Prime Time have parents' permission to pick the children up from school. “They are all delivered home safely; that's a big thing,” says Major Curtis Butler.
As the children finish up their afternoon with an animated video of the Prodigal Son, a mouth-watering aroma drifts down the hallway from the kitchen. Soon, the teenagers, who have been meeting with Major Curtis Butler for their own activities, will join them to share a meal.
“We have supper together every Tuesday,” explains Astwood. “We have good cooks in this corps, so everybody contributes.” Today's menu features a tossed salad and a pasta casserole prepared by Lois Maybury, just one of the many volunteers who take turns making meals for the young people.
“They always go home well fed,” smiles Major Curtis Butler, “and hopefully will remember what they've learned—that God loves them and it is our joy to show them just how God feels about them.”