Program builds Christian base

Cortland church hosts Bible Kids

CORTLAND — Wanting to help local children build self-esteem and improve academics, as well as provide a Christian foundation, are part of the once-per-week Bible Kids after-school program provided by Cortland United Methodist Church.

The Rev. David Vensel, pastor of the church, said members of the church come together 3 to 5 p.m. each Wednesday for a fall session and also a winter and spring session through April 4.

The church volunteers work with the children on different activities and hold discussions on issues of concern to them, such as bullying.

“We want to help them build self esteem at school and at home,” Vensel said.

The Biblically-based program was started six years ago at the church and has since been relocated to Lakeview Middle School, where activities are provided to fourth to sixth graders.

Shirley Barbe-Divencenzo, program coordinator, said Bible Kids is open to children of any denomination who can join at any time.

“The children just stay at the school and we meet them there. The program was started as a way to provide a safe place for children to be. We talk to them about anti-bullying and the importance of friendships,” she said.

Barbe-Divencenzo said at the conclusion of the fall session the children came to the church for a program about the birth of Jesus.

The children have also done dramas on the “Crucifixion” and “Resurrection of Christ” written by Vensel. Children presented wooden crosses they had made for their parents.

“Students did an excellent job portraying their characters,” Barbe-Divincenzo said.

For the end of the winter-spring session will be another program on the Easter story.

“The parents have told us they like having the children participating in activities at the church,” Barbe-Divencenzo said.

She said the program will continue outside when there are activities for children such as “Fly a Kite Day” and a trip to Imagination Station in Bazetta in the spring.

Barbe-Divencenzo said there also will be summer community events such as parades and Cortland Community Band performances.

“Many of the children are very band-oriented. We will try for three events,” she said.

The program is made possible by a three-year grant from the United Methodist Conference to help cover expenses.

Organizers said children like hands-on learning and activities and community events.

Savannah Rosier, 10, of Cortland, a fifth-grader, said she likes doing art activities and learning about God.

She was part of the fall session and took part in the play about birth of Jesus.

“Nice to come back and be part of this,” Rosier said.

Frankie Hughes, 10, of Bazetta, also a fifth grader, said he likes the people and doing different activities.

To register or for information, call 330-637-2571.