Black’s Chapel: Thrift to gift

bc_lpMost Sunday mornings, you’ll find 25 or so people in the pews at Black’s Chapel United Methodist in Godwin. It’s a small, historic church in a one-stoplight town – and it’s living proof that you can’t measure the heart of a community by a count of the heads. You measure it in relationships. You measure it in readiness to help when somebody’s home burns or job is lost or child is sick. You measure it in support for an organization like Methodist Home for Children, where a beloved pastor spent part of his childhood.

This is the story of Black’s Chapel UMC and its thrift store.


Linda_

Linda Collier

It all started with a yard sale 20 years ago.

Rev. Frank Daniels was the new pastor at Black’s Chapel United Methodist and his wife, Marjorie, organized a congregational yard sale to raise money for the tiny Cumberland County church. Linda Collier, a fourth-generation member, helped out with the sale; the next thing she knew, Frank was asking what she thought about opening a thrift store to help the church respond to needs in the community.

“I didn’t even know what a thrift store was,” she says. “I was hooked before I knew what I was doing.”

Linda ended up going with Frank to scout a store location – a shuttered grocery with all the shelving still in place. The owner gave them a deal on the rent and a few days later, they were elbow to elbow with friends scrubbing the place, hauling away wall-mounted coolers, and getting started on a project that would bond volunteers, customers, and donors like family.

It’s been two decades now. More than enough time to do unreckonable good in the community – donating proceeds to food banks, backpack buddies, and Methodist Home for Children, among others – and to delight in the rapid-fire retelling of stories they’ve collected: selling one another’s jackets and canes, mistaking them for inventory; fending off donations of ratty sofas and mattresses more suited for the landfill; watching the run on lingerie when a boutique donated its inventory; singing a “wienie man” song when Frank sold hotdogs at the storefront; pulling up a chair for 87-year-old “Grandma” every Friday at 4 p.m. when she comes to look for scatter rugs; riding in a caravan of trucks, loaded down “like the Beverly Hillbillies,” after cleaning out the donated contents of a home in Rockingham.

They tell about the joys and heartaches of their volunteer work: outfitting men for weddings and funerals; replacing the wardrobe for a young mother escaping domestic abuse; clothing and supplying families burned out of their homes. And they stay reminded of their own blessings: “We are aware of the scripture that says, I was naked and you clothed me,” Martha Carter says. “And this makes us appreciate what we’ve got in our own lives. Every time I come on Friday, I am thankful that I’ve got a roof, I’ve got food. I’ve got enough clothes. Some of these people coming in, they don’t have that.”

The couple who inspired the store – Frank and Marjorie Daniels – went on to serve other churches after Black’s Chapel, but their deep relationships in Godwin lived on. “We thought the world of that family,” Linda says. Upon their deaths in 2015 and 2016, respectively, the Daniels were memorialized by the church and the thrift store with $4,000 in gifts to Methodist Home for Children. Frank had grown up at Methodist Orphanage and served as its first pastor in the 1960s.

Today Rev. Charles Cash is pastor of this small church with an outsized heart for service. “You have got to show God’s love to people,” he says. “I am blessed to be a pastor of this congregation. If I had 300 people in my church who were as these 25 are, we could change the world.”

Black’s Chapel Thrift Store is open Friday and Saturdays at 9908 Dunn Road in Godwin.

ladies_lp2Volunteers Martha Carter, Linda Collier, Brenda Holt, Joan Jackson, Nancy Reep, and Nancy Honeycutt. Not shown: Allen Greenwood, Vanessa Hardee, Jack Honeycutt, Sophia Murnahan, JC Sanders, Reagan Sawey, Joy Tew, and Janie Vann