Recently a United Church called John Wesley United in Sault Ste. Marie, celebrated its’ last worship service as a congregation. On Palm Sunday,March 29th,2015, members of John Wesley United Church, after several years of trying to stay the course, had to close the doors. The building has been sold, and is a work in progress, as to what will become of the beautiful sanctuary.
“The part of the legacy of John Wesley, that worries us the most, are the stained glass windows.” shared Norma Orr, long time member of the congregation at John Wesley United. “There is quite alot of stained glass here. The hardest part of letting go of the building has been the glorious stained glass.”
Norma Orr reflected on the situation that was facing the congregation at John Wesley 10 years ago. “Around 2005 the discussion started. As a congregation,we could see that we couldn’t carry on as we were. At that same point in time, the New to You Shoppe opened and it has helped fund resources for the life of the church. It helped for quite a while, but not enough for us to keep going.”
A process in place within the United Church of Canada, the congregation and Algoma Presbytery began to unfold, and ultimately led to the last service for worship on March 29th taking place. An emotional time for members of the congregation, who are now finding their way to other faith communities within the Sault.
Folks who shop at The New to You Shoppe (TNTYS), (and if you don’t why aren’t you), will be pleased to know that TNTY is open for business until the end of June,2015. Donations are still being accepted right up until the end of May. “We’ve been open every Tuesday from 10 – 2 pm for 8 years.” shared Norma. “People are worried about us not being here anymore, and wonder where they are going to go (to shop) when we close.” The prices at The New to You Shoppe are amazing. And if a person needs help, NTYS has provided many care packages of clothes and sundries, home decor and so much more. “We have been called upon by the Red Cross to help families in crisis, who have lost everything.” said Norma “If we can give something to a person in need, at no cost, we know that we have really helped someone. Sometimes social workers will bring in clients to shop. We see those same folks coming back often. It provides a wonderful feeling for all of us volunteering here at NTYS. We hear stories and we laugh a great deal. We are a listening ear many times.”
Norma spoke to the issue of poverty in our community, and how this particular store played a vital role in supporting individuals and families living in poverty. “We have people from all walks of life shopping here.” adding “We tried to figure out a way to move NTYS somewhere else. A new location. But after working with a Future’s Committee, and trying to realize the goal of staying open for business, there was no way for the shop to continue. “We are already staying here (the shop) through the goodwill of the new owner of the building. John Wesley doesn’t own the building any longer. We’re grateful to be able to continue until the end of June, 2015. For The New to you Shoppe to be successful, as part of its’ outreach mission, it could not survive in a space on Gore St (for example) where we would be paying a substantial portion to rent.” adding “Short of a miracle, and someone coming forward with a donated space, we will close. The prices at NTYS are very low. We have operated on all donated items since February 2008.”
And NTYS has also operated entirely through volunteers from within the faith community of John Wesley and friends. Some of the volunteers are Diana Findlay, Peggy Elgin, Myrna Matheson, Eleanor Healey,Patty Moore, Susan Caughill, and of course, Norma Orr.
From an idea born out of a conversation between sisters, Norma and her merry band of volunteers have built a busy space, a welcoming space, a needed space. A place where a person feels right at home and can find a listening ear, some darned good storytelling, and a whole lot of laughter.
The New to You Shoppe. The little shop that could, and did, for 8 years, keep a church chugging along.
Get out to the New to You Shoppe. You will be so glad you did. You have until the end of June.