While Gareth enjoys an August vacation, this letter is being written by guest columnists from our parish.
When the pandemic caused a shutdown of life as we know it, an odd silence settled around us. (Ok, to be fair, not for those with young children). Annual events we have come to expect and often have defined a season were cancelled. For me, I missed the St. Barnabas Thrift and Clothing Sales.With some research, I learned that St. Barnabas Church has been holding Thrift Sales in Irvington for over 87 years! The May 1934 Yonkers Herald Statesman announces, “The Irvington Thrift Shop will be re-opened in the Irvington National Bank building on Main Street, June 4th by the Women’s Guild of St. Barnabas Church.” An April 1956 Irvington Gazette proclaims “St. Barnabas Thrift Sale Huge Success.” Through the Depression, multiple wars and pandemics, our Thrift Sale
s have continued to bring people together and raise funds for the church and many wonderful charities.
My daughter’s high school class ring reads – “Ac Fui,” (they translate it as Latin for “I was there, I was a part”). These words ring true for all who volunteer their time to the St. Barnabas sales. The sales are like Sunday sermons put to work; converting words into actions. They fill a void for those on a tight budget, are a wonderful treasure hunt for others and a homecoming of parishioners who have moved away or students on a break. Often heard down the hallways are welcoming words – “How have you been?” and “So glad to see you.”
Our sales raise important funds, but also the spirits of the many who stop by for a friendly word or to just be in a friendly space. A great example is during one Thrift Sale, a shoeless toddler came into the “shoe tent” with her grandmother. The grandmother explained that the child had grown out of her baby shoes and didn’t have any shoes that fit. A new pair of Stride Rite Munchkins toddler shoes had been donated. They were a perfect fit. Giggles of joy erupted from the child who now stomped around the tent in her new shoes. The grandmother was genuinely thankful, and left the tent chasing after a child who ran into the churchyard with the freedom found in a new pair of shoes.
A pair of Stride Rite Munchkins for a toddler, fancy heels for the high school prom, shoes for an upcoming job interview and designer flats for a Friday night out with friends. These are just a few of the ways we are reminded of how our sales can bring joy to others and connect us to a larger community.
St. Barnabas Thrift Sales are when we stand in one place for a moment. Where people find us with doors open – no membership required. It is a time when we try our very best to live out Sunday sermons without conditions. Looking forward to when we can connect to the broader community, again, safely. To paraphrase a quote from William Butler Yeats – “There are no strangers here; just friends we haven’t met yet.”
Gareth Evans serves as the rector of St. Barnabas. He is an inspirational leader who brings significant pastoral experience, a depth of reverence in worship, and a relatable preaching style.