At a resale store in Gainesville, Texas, church members laugh and labor alongside community neighbors, taking part in a cycle of generosity and hospitality that breaks the traditional church mold. Second Time Around Resale (STAR) is an unexpected find, a thrift shop that is more of a gift shop — material, spiritual and creative gifts paired with talent, humor, love and hard work. A diverse and surprising abundance flows through the open garage door on the side of STAR’s downtown, historic brick building.
I call what happens next the real gifts. Volunteer partners assess, prepare, price and display the gifts we receive. Then neighbors and strangers enter our doors. They are gifts to us and each other. Neighbors bring unique personalities, knowledge, wisdom, stories, friendship and sometimes special needs — for a friend, a loved one or for prayer. We share life’s joys and sorrows — a job interview, court appearance, students going back to school or setting up house after an unplanned move. These children of God are our most valuable assets. Now STAR looks to expand ways of being in ministry with neighbors, connecting the church with the world, reminding the world what the church has to offer and the church of the needs of the world. Because of our frequent contact and time to get to know our community, we become aware of ways we can be of service, and of the assets and opportunities right outside our doors.
Donors may be simplifying, downsizing, disposing of an estate or rummage sale or they may want to offer a word of thanks or encouragement. Recently, a donor returned a second time with pastries and a note thanking volunteer partners for “making a difference.”
Second Time Around Resale is a favorite stop for local shoppers, as well as frequent travelers to the area, and for treasure-hunters from beyond Cooke County.
It was nearly 40 years ago that church members began a ministry collecting gently worn clothing to sell for a nominal 50 cents or $1 to neighbors in need. Now, housed across from First United Methodist Church, Gainesville, Second Time Around is participating in God’s economy of abundance in new and unexpected ways.
People who might not meet in other circumstances often find a new friend. Some donors are grieving the loss of a loved one as they manage their possessions. Volunteer partners open their hearts to listen, share a prayer or embrace. Here, the community can attend to one another. Meeting face to face initiates conversations that often lead to relationship and invitation. Sometimes, customers arrive by referral from area social service organizations. STAR also contributes to a local food pantry which helps with nutrition, budgeting, short-term lodging and other needs. Area agencies refer clients to STAR to help set up housekeeping or for clothing and shoes. Those who need canes, walkers or shower chairs may find them at STAR, and there’s no charge for medical equipment.
High school students serve one day each week. Children and others from FUMC help out one Sunday each month preparing merchandise, stocking and preparing packaging materials. A highlight for volunteers is shared meals around a communal table, family style. About half of the volunteers are church members and the other half are from the greater community.
Community ministries of FUMC Gainesville and Second Time Around Resale look to expand more broadly to include morning prayer, Bible and spiritual formation studies and creative explorations of spirituality that invite neighbors to participate along with members and volunteers.
Like Jesus’ parable of the mustard seed in Matthew 13:31-32, this most unassuming of “seeds” is growing to a great tree, spreading branches for all to enjoy. God’s dream in the heart of believers, with attention and faith, keeps growing to reveal the kingdom of heaven.