Armadale-Kelmscott Uniting Church partnered with Good Samaritan Industries (GSI), a Uniting Church WA agency, to hold their very first Smarty Pants Swap Shop in early August.
The congregation invited members of their local community to drop in and donate good quality, clean clothes they no longer need. They were then invited to take what they would like from the already donated items.
Sue Whitworth, member at Armadale-Kelmscott Uniting Church and organiser of the event, said there was no limit to how much people could take from the pile, as it was a casual, friendly social event which also promoted re-using items and the work of GSI. Sue said the idea was born from the realisation that the congregation needed to connect with the community if they were to survive.
“We’ve been going along for years just looking after each other and ourselves, and we realised that the church is going to die like so many others – and we just don’t want that. There’s so many people to reach,” she said.
The congregation took action by reviewing information from the National Church Life Survey (NCLS) and taking its advice. Sue also approached the local Shire, who said that loneliness is a big issue in the area, giving the congregation an area of need that they could connect with.
They began by appreciating all the good things they have in their church, followed by imagining the church they would like to have. They then prioritised what they should concentrate on to make that dream a reality.
They invited, then newly appointed, Rev Alison Gilchrist, Presbytery Minister Mission, to visit, and the idea for the Smarty Pants Swap Shop was put into action. The congregation also held a successful Biggest Morning Tea fundraising event for the Cancer Council, which was well attended by members of the local community and covered in the local newspaper.
The first Smarty Pants Swap Shop was well received by the local community.
“It seemed to be something people really appreciated,” Sue said. “I think nearly all the visitors stayed for a cup of tea and a piece of raison toast.
“We’ve had phone calls afterwards with people wanting to give us clothes or ask when the next one will be. I think it will gather momentum.”
Sue said that partnering with GSI is a way of letting the community know about the good work that is done within the Uniting Church WA family. They were also able to donate 35kg of clothing to GSI after the event.
“A lot of people don’t even know that Good Sammy is a Uniting Church thing,” she said. “It’s just another way of promoting an agency of the Uniting Church and connecting the two together.”
The Smarty Pants Swap Shop has become a regular event at Armadale-Kelmscott Uniting Church, with the next shop already held on Wednesday 4 September, 10.00am to 12noon.
For more information on running a similar event in your community, or reaching out in another way, contact Rev Alison Gilchrist, Presbytery Minister Mission at the Uniting Church WA, on 9260 9800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.