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Antioch Church, Llanelli (14/05/2006)

Posted: 14 May, 2006

"I had no idea this place was so big!" is a common exclamation from people visiting Antioch Centre for the first time, and understandably so. Since 1996 Antioch Church has gradually renovated a once derelict 17,000 square-foot factory into a multi-purpose community centre housing a variety of projects and activities designed to meet the needs of the local community.

Antioch Church, LlanelliAntioch's mission statement is "Church alive for our neighbour, our nation and the nations." To fulfil this the church has looked at the felt needs of the people of Llanelli, whom it seeks to serve in practical and creative ways. One of these was a desperate need for children's and youth facilities in the area. The response was the opening of one of Antioch's first projects, Crazy Maisies Fun Station, in 1997, a bouncy castle and soft play facility providing a fun, and affordable, place for kids to safely let off steam while accompanying parents enjoy a cup of coffee. This, plus an excellent children's party service, have helped make Crazy Maisies famous across town, and the name to mention when asking directions to Antioch Centre!

Projects have usually been born out of a vision of someone in the congregation to meet a need of people in the area. This is especially true of Chooselife, Antioch's drug and alcohol intervention programme, whose director was himself a former heroin addict and ex-offender. Today the Chooselife Day Centre provides a meeting place where those with drug and alcohol problems can receive support, advice and counselling, and also runs regular family days out, to build positive activities and a family support structure into the lives of those battling addictions.

Antioch's thriving youth work is built around the Friday night Mission Music youth club, attended by over 100 young people from the area. As the name suggests, making music is a significant part of the activities on offer, with drum, guitar and bass lessons rocking the building. Recording skills are also taught in Newid Studio, another community project run from Antioch Centre, which gives local bands access to high quality rehearsal and recording facilities.

With ongoing links in Bulgaria, India and Morocco, Antioch has always had an emphasis on "the nations", but in recent months a weekly ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) class has seen the nations coming to Antioch. Sparked by a meeting with some Nepalese Gurkhas, who were employed as bus drivers in Llanelli, the class now has 9 women from Nepal, plus two others from Turkey and Lithuania, learning English and enjoying being together.

These projects, plus countless relational links into the community, mean that Antioch is able to serve its community consistently, demonstrating the love of our wonderful God in practical, everyday ways to people who might never have considered "going to church".

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