Thrift Shop Ministers to a Community and Brings New Life to a Congregation

Thrift Shop Ministers to a Community and Brings New Life to a Congregation

On a beautiful autumn day in Brentwood, the pews of Christ Church were filled with parishioners and community partners for a joyful celebration of thanksgiving for their thrift store, their volunteers, and supportive members of the community.

It would have been difficult to envision this just five years ago when the parish struggled to keep the lights on and the spirit of the congregation up. With financial challenges weighing them down it was hard to imagine reaching beyond the walls of the church in service to others.

The congregation, however, recognized there was a way they could help their community and support their parish at the same time—they just needed some funding to get the project started. With a modest grant from Episcopal Ministries (then called Episcopal Charities), they renovated their space, purchased shelves, racks and signage, and opened a thrift store.

By creating a pleasant space where items were carefully displayed and sold at very inexpensive prices, families in the community had a place to shop where they also felt welcomed and cared for. A large immigrant community also found the means to buy clothing that they could send to their families and loved ones back home. And those items, often selling for just a dollar or two, began to add up.

“The grant not only made it possible for us to pay our bills and keep our lights on, it has earned more than 10 times the original investment allowing us to restore our church and our community” said Deacon Gail Kertland who helped start the thrift shop.

Another gift of this ministry is a renewed relationship with St. Mark’s, Islip which is the mother church of Christ Church and also has a thriving thrift store. By offering their experience, their friendship and clothing for the new store at Christ Church, St. Mark’s helped reinvigorate the congregation.

The thrift store also brought Christ Church into deeper relationship with other Episcopal parishes that provide donations for the shop and assist with other outreach ministries like the food pantry and English as a Second Language program.

Spurred by a renewed sense of hope, nearly every parishioner at Christ Church is actively engaged with at least one ministry of the parish. “Because of the support of so many, it has restored our pride in our church, faith in ourselves, and a dedication to the ministry of Christ” said Deacon Kertland.

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