The Uniformed Groups
The Uniformed Groups arm of the Youth Ministry of the Boulevard Baptist Church was established in 1983 and is guided by the tenets “Be Prepared” and “Lend a Hand”. This auxiliary was the brainchild of the late Brother Luther Corothers, who recognised that there was a need in the Church to have young people involved in a ministry which would provide services and well as activities that would cater to their holistic development. Additionally, an auxiliary of this nature would create an opportunity for the Church to engage in outreach ministry in the neighbouring communities.
Under the chairmanship of Brother Corothers, the Steering Committee which comprised Deacon Eric Downie, Mervyn Chisolm , (now PhD.), Albert Anderson, Denise Thaxter, Richard Gibbs, and Janice Beckford (nee Gibbs) – secretary, completed its mandate to decide on the nature of this ministry, its suitability and composition which would allow young people to hone talents and develop skills in different areas. Following approval, first from the Pastor at that time, Rev. Luther Gibbs and then the Council, the ministry, Uniformed Groups, was launched. Invitations and notices were distributed to members, visitors to the church with children as well as to persons in neighbouring communities. Initially, there were four groups: for the girls, under the umbrella of the Girl Guides Association of Jamaica – Brownies, age group 7-12 and Girl Guides, ages 10-16; for the boys, under the umbrella of the Scouts Association of Jamaica – Cub Scouts, age group 7-11 and Scouts, ages 10-16 years.
The first leaders were: Girl Guides – Patricia Pratt; Brownies - Denise Thaxter, Assistants, Janice Gibbs and June (nee Cuffley) Saunders; Cub Scouts - Meryn Chisolm; Scouts - Richard Gibbs; while Mr. Enos Barrett acted as advisor.
The Uniformed Groups became one of the vibrant auxiliaries of the Youth Ministry for the first decade of its existence. At least one hundred girls and about the same number of boys have been a part of this auxiliary of the Church. The leaders provided the boys and girls with both local and overseas opportunities for development. Of note, in 1985, Mr. Barrett, who assumed the weekly leadership of the scout troop (while the then Scout Leader , Richard Gibbs was pursuing studies overseas) was instrumental in taking several members of the Scout Troop overseas to participate in an international camp, Camp Carpenter in New Hampshire, USA. Then, in 1995 and 1997, Alton Bogle, the Scout Leader at the time, arranged for the members of the Boy Scouts’ troop to attend the camp again. Additionally, the scouts and guides participated in local and international camps. These included the participation of the Scouts in the Pan American Jamboree at GC Foster College and of the Girl Guides in several international (for example, the Girl Guides Association’s Jubilee International Camp at Shortwood Teachers’ College) and national camps held in Jamaica. Also, they participated in the country’s national services and events.
Unfortunately, at the beginning of the year 2000, the Uniformed Groups, especially the boys’ arm, the Cubs and Scouts, declined in numbers due to a number of factors which included changes in the leadership, migration, time constraints due to tertiary level studies or job related demands. Presently (2013), the Uniformed Groups comprises only the Brownies and the Girl Guides. The Church’s Brotherhood has undertaken
the challenge to revive the defunct boys’ arm of the Uniformed Groups by re-establishing the Cub and Boy Scouts groups. There have been young men who have expressed an interest in serving as leaders in this arm of the Church. It is hoped that this will become a reality for 2014.
Present Status - 95th St. Andrew-Brownie Pack and Guide Company
The Uniformed Groups Ministry continues to be blessed with recruiting and sustaining a cadre of guiders to lead the Brownies and the Girl Guides who are committed to the Girl Guides Association’s mission of moulding young girls to develop wholesome values while engaging them in meaningful activities. The Guiders are Janice Beckford and Dana-Marie Dick with Assistant Guider Jodi-Ann Walker. This auxiliary has a programme which provides activities as well as opportunities for the girls to live their promise and law “to do their duty to God”, and “serve the Queen and country”, “to help other people and to think of others before themselves”, and to “be prepared”. The programme offers an array of activities for girls such as: camps, earning interest badges, honing skills and talents through art and craft, culinary, sports, homemaking, music among other things. As members of the Youth Ministry, the girls have been a part of the Church’s overall ministry particularly on third Sundays when they engage in the reading of scriptures, praying, leading the worship service, being a part of the praise and worship team, collecting offering/ushering, presenting the notices and opportunities for worship, ministering in dance and singing on the Children’s Choir.
Some highlights of activities in which the girls are currently engaged include: Bun and Pastry making, Sale of Girl Guide Cookies in October (which is, the Girl Guides Association’s annual major fundraiser), Picnics, First Aid, Knots, Drills, Pack Holidays and Camps.
The meeting time is Saturdays 4:30-6:30 p.m. and any girl or boy, ages 7-16 years, can be a part of this auxiliary.
Volunteers, men or women 19 years and older, who are willing and committed to be Leaders of this auxiliary are urgently needed.
Special commendation must be extended to the following persons for their sterling contributions as volunteer leaders and who served faithfully at different periods to ensure the continuity of this vital arm of the Church. These are Carol (nee Sharpe) Booth, Cheryl Simpson, Dionne Simpson, Sandra Wallen, Daniella Hickling, Briget Scott, Natalie Reid, Michelle McGregor, Kimia Cunningham-Hemmings, Lassom McDermott, who all served as leaders for the girls. For the boys, Gladys Taffe, Homer Slack, Christopher Pothemont, Alton Bogle, Patrick Clough and Andrew Danvers.