The Flight of the Dove and Raven: The Anglican Parish of Denman Op Shop

Denman is a small rural parish situated in the Upper Hunter among the vines, mines and equines. Like most rural parishes a lot of fund raising has to happen to keep the parish viable.

Eighteen years ago, with the parish suffering considerable financial strain and under the leadership of Fr Glen Pope, the “Bargain Bazaar” was imagined and put into operation.

The Bargain Bazaar was run out of the parish hall every two months. It was all hands on deck for these very busy Saturdays, but in reality it was a culmination of 2 months of gathering second hand goods from the community, cleaning, pricing and storing stock before hand then setting up in the week before and packing up on the Saturday afternoon.

The wider community looked forward to the Bargain Bazaar and the wonderful bargains that had been donated but after eighteen years, and with the volunteers now eighteen years older many did not want to keep up such a workload.

It was time for the parish to re-imagine how to keep itself financially viable. After much prayer, parish consultation and after doing some figures, parish council decided to take a risk and rent a shop in the main street of Denman and set it up as a permanent op shop which would be called the “Dove and Raven”.

“It was time for the parish to re-imagine how to keep itself financially viable. After much prayer and parish consultation, [the parish] set up a permanent op shop which would be called the “Dove and Raven”.”

The risks for this small parish are worthy of note – could we afford the rent, would people still keep donating stock, would people come and continue to buy from us after changing from the Bargain Bazaar model, and would we have enough volunteers to keep the shop open enough days to cover the rent?

After being open for a year the answers to the above became a resounding yes. Yes we cover the rent, yes people still donate their pre-loved goods to us, yes people still come and shop with us (being opened most of the week means a larger customer base), and yes we went from having six final volunteers running the Bargain Bazaar to around 50 volunteers from the Anglican Church, the Catholic Church and the wider community all wanting to join in on our new venture.

Some of the wonderful op shop volunteers and customers

Although we call ourselves an op shop we were also intentional about running ministry from the building so we incorporated a quiet room and chapel for those in need of a quiet space to pray, chat or read. Food distribution is also run out of the shop pantry.

We are now in our second year of operation and have appointed Brenda Huggett as shop co coordinator.  Brenda is in the shop weekly and oversees shop stock management and our amazing team of volunteers.

While changing from one model to another and paying rent has been a huge step of faith for the parish, it has been a step that continues to pay off both financially and spiritually as the parish continues to trust in the leading of God’s Spirit and to give thanks for God’s provision through the generous community of Denman.

By The Reverend Jody Zammit