Zac Taylor was our Stewardship Witness during the services on October 15 and 16 where he offered the following testimony to how St. Bart’s has loved and served him even though he has never attended church here.
I stumbled upon the thrift store one Saturday about a year ago after seeing a flyer advertising a Christmas sale at the Nook here on campus. Now I should probably confess at the outset here, that I am a dedicated bargain hunter! And if any of you are too – you know the ‘thrill of the hunt!’
Anyway, I was happily hunting away in the Nook when Cheryl Roop came over and introduced herself. Now if you don’t know her, let me just say is just a lovely person she is – and I should add, a VERY SMOOTH volunteer coordinator! And by the way, I probably add at this point that I’m not a member of St. Bart’s. In fact, I have never even attended St. Bart’s. I was just a mild-mannered bargain hunter, yet before I knew it, Cheryl had me volunteering down at the thrift shop 2 times per week!
And since I AM in church this morning, I should probably admit that again, my intentions were a little selfish. I assumed that volunteering at thrift store I would be entitled to some kind of “employee discount” -- but more importantly, I figured as a volunteer I would be in position to scoop up the best bargains as soon as they hit the shelves!
But it didn’t take long for my time at the Thrift Shop to become something much more than that – something I hadn’t quite expected…
But to understand that, you need to know just a little about me and my faith journey: I have always been a seeker. Even as a kid I remember skipping out of Catholic Mass, so I could sneak next door to the Methodist church, because they had a Sunday School, where I could actually LEARN about God. I wanted to get to know this God we spent so much time worshiping. Unfortunately, as I became an adult, I found that the church I had grown up in, no longer welcomed me--or at least not the REAL me. At the time in my life when I was beginning to really accept myself, and to begin to love the person God made me to be, I found my church increasingly did not.
As a result, the child who was always seeking God’s love, found himself as an adult, staying away from God’s church. It just hurt too much to hear every Sunday that the same God who I wanted to love so much, might not completely…love you back.
So I left the church and stayed as far away as I could. In fact, I had become so guarded when it comes to church, that when Liz Angus asked me if I might share my story during the service, my partner David and I both joked that it was all an elaborate plot to get me back to church!
So with that back ground, hopefully you can understand how a simple thing like being welcomed can be.
And welcomed I was. In fact, the community at St. Bart’s Thrift Shop is a microcosm of how we treat each other and how we are a family, it's quite extraordinary. Going to the thrift shop has become the bright spot of many my days. It inspires me to be a better person. I’ve noticed my patience and tolerance of others has increased. I spend more time now thinking of others than myself.
And it’s a chance to do the work I always believed was supposed to be at the heart of church to start with. Not judging people, but Loving and Serving real people…in real ways.
And unlike, my experience with my former church, at the thrift shop, I noticed that the more of myself I have revealed to them, the more of themselves they have revealed to me, and the closer to one another we have grown.
So I guess I just want to say thank you. Thank you to the people of St Barts, to the Thrift Shop for finding a place for me in your family; and for helping me to find place where I can receive and give away, the love of God that I had been seeking all along.
If you would like to help St. Bart’s continue to reach people like Zac, become a partner in the ministry of St. Bart’s today by making a pledge you can make an online pledge today.