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Small Parish, Big Outreach

Jan 26, 2023

By Kay Meyer

This is the story of a small parish in a small town with a big outreach. It all started once upon a time when a parishioner visiting another state, while out walking the dog, came across a “Little Free Library.”

This was new and amazing to her. It was a little house on stilts with books to borrow – take one, leave one. She was immediately enamored with the concept and texted a picture to her Library Director back home. The delightful response was, “Yes, we have just put one up here and have another ready. We’ll help you get one going if you like.”

Upon returning home, she proposed the idea to her Priest who embraced it and suggested we could have it made as a small replica of St. Andrew’s Parish, which was founded in 1893. The Vestry concurred. Fast forward…

With the aid of an Appleton Foundation grant offered through the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, we now maintain six (6) Saint Andrew’s look-alikes throughout our town and county.

The philosophy is Borrow – Take – Give. We have also dedicated a room in our Parish Hall as a book depository. Members of our Parish as well as people in our community contribute books to it on a steady basis. To God be the Glory!

But that’s not the end of the story.

One Little Free Library was dedicated to God (as they all are) and placed in Brick City, a housing project in our town. A wonderful lady living next to it became our “Saint in Residence.”

We gave books regularly to Miss Barbara, who was like the Pied Piper to the children by reading to them, sharing books with them to take home, and encouraging them. We asked her one day how she became so interested in reading.

She answered that after school, she and her sister would race to their grandfather’s house where he would sit in his rocking chair and read stories to them, or tell them some of his own.

One of our parishioners suggested we get her a rocking chair for reading to the children. We did that and invited her to join us for the service when it was dedicated. We then had a Festival Breakfast of Thanksgiving for her and her ministry with us in this shared outreach.

We were, thankfully, able to maintain a steady flow of books for her even through the Covid-19 pandemic. Her faithfulness and our supply led to a beautiful happening as the children were allowed back into the classrooms. They came running to her as they got off the bus after school with the thrilling news, “We got ‘improved reading’ scores this time.”

What more could we have ever asked for?

The other locations are successful with one in the very middle of downtown, one in each of the two Recreation Parks in our county, and others.

And on a final note, Miss Barbara is moving to care for her mother. She has already found a replacement for herself and suggests that as soon as she and her Mom are settled, she will advise us about the possibility of establishing another Saint Andrew’s Little Free Library near her new location.

May we all continue always serving children (and adults) of all ages. Thanks be to God.