Recycling Registers Redemption
GA – Thanks to a little redemptive recycling, the jeans that a
13-year-old girl outgrew this year are helping a local single mom move
her family off the street.
sounds like economic alchemy, converting used jeans into security for a
struggling family is exactly what founders imagined when they
established Chalice Thrift, the new outreach ministry of First Christian
Church of Decatur, GA (FCCD).
“It’s not magic. It’s mission,”
magic. It’s mission,” said Doug Schuette, a local architect and a member
of First Christian, who helped shepherd the thrift store from a dream to
a three-days-a-week retail reality. “Arguably, a pair of jeans that a
teenager only wore a couple of times really can fuel a little
it works: Olivia outgrew her new jeans before she had the chance to even
wear them more than once. Her parents dropped these gently used items
off at Chalice Thrift shortly after the church asked for donations.
A few days
later, someone bought the jeans from the thrift store. That income,
along with sales of dozens of other donations, quickly generated
sufficient funds for Chalice Thrift to make a $500 gift to Hagar’s
House, a program of Decatur Cooperative Ministries that helps homeless
families become self-reliant, converted the unexpected donation into a
number of unbudgeted items, including gas cards for clients.
One of the
gas cards helped a young mom fill the tank of her car, so she could get
to her new job. The new job is empowering the mom to support her young
family, which only weeks earlier had been living on the street.
excited to receive Chalice Thrift’s first gift,” said DCM Executive
Director, Beth Vann-Turnbull. “Obviously, it’s a community-business
enterprise, motivated by faith, dedicated to service to the community.
Chalice Thrift is a fun place to shop, but it’s taking those proceeds
and using them to a greater good.”
A Ministry Frontier
But the redemption really started even before Olivia outgrew her jeans,
according to Schuette. It started when First Christian lost an important
tenant of the church building.
Center for Children had remodeled and occupied half of the large church
basement for their work in counseling and interviewing child abuse
survivors. It was a program that was highly compatible with FCCD’s
outreach mission in Decatur. By helping the organization with affordable
space, the church was indirectly supporting the children who needed this
when funds for the state program dried up, the Decatur offices were
closed, leaving FCCD with lots of space, and without GCC on the
receiving end of the church’s generosity. A three-year search for a new
mission-matching tenant proved unsuccessful.
Fall 2011 afternoon, as members of FCCD staffed a sluggish all-church
yard sale at a parishioner’s home, a conversation arose about how to use
the space to support mission. Someone noted that the church’s location
near the center of Downtown Decatur made it a strong retail location.
Having hundreds of visitors at the church’s Decatur Toy Park across the
street from the sanctuary meant plenty of nearby foot traffic from
families with young children.
had space, plenty of yard sale items to spare, plus the benefit of a
great retail location. What if the church combined these resources to
start a thrift store whose proceeds could fund outreach ministry? After
research and further conversation, a few leaders, including Laura Andrew
and Schuette, agreed to take responsibility for the new shop. Within a
few months, the church had moved forward, Olivia had grown four inches,
and the rest was history.
The shop opened August 4, 2012. Doors are open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every
Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for sales and to receive material
donations. In just three months of operations, the store has generated
income of $3,500, leaving its creators with a new problem: How to be
effective stewards of the growing funds.
surprised by the response,” said Andrew, chair of FCCD’s outreach
ministry. “It’s been so strong… with little more than word of mouth.”
tidy operation, designed like a higher-end consignment shop. Items are
displayed neatly on shelves and racks, organized by size and gender. Two
small rooms are dedicated to children’s clothing, toys and gear – a big
hit with some of the parents who frequent Decatur Toy Park.
display reminds buyers that their purchases will support ministries all
over the world. Volunteer sales staff means that about 90% of the
proceeds can go directly to mission.
the proceeds support the operating budget of the church,” said James
Brewer-Calvert, pastor. The project is a new twist on the church’s
90-year-old intention to extend hospitality.
end, we came around as a congregation saying this needs to be an
extension of our hospitality… our hope, our healing, our ministry,” said
Brewer-Calvert. “This is not something a tenant is doing. This is
something this faith community is doing.”