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For those of you who have not met Beth Jett or me, or who have not had communications with the NAGA Sacristy Shop, welcome aboard a ministry of celebration and awards.

Beth‘s life as the twin daughter of an Episcopal priest has evolved into an amazing legacy — and NAGA is one of its beneficiaries. Driven by personal generosity to have altar guild members experience the Triennial Eucharist service while learning from colleagues around the country, Beth has assembled items she believes will bond and motivate altar guilds with clergy at the parish and diocese levels. The proceeds from the sale of these items provide scholarships to attend Triennial. These scholarships pay their expenses, to the degree possible, for individuals who are recommended by clergy and bishops for having exhibited service and demonstrated interest in self-growth for broader service. (Expenses for attending Triennial can exceed $2,000 or more. This is an intimidating figure, particularly considering the additional cost of arranging child, house and pet care.)

Recognizing the positive impact attendance has on recruitment and enrichment for our ministry, NAGA board members work diligently to solicit financial support from all of the bishops who are able to choose to provide funds from their diocese. This goes a long way to providing for NAGA’s Eucharist expenses, speakers and programs, including a shared evening meal — but the need to provide assistance for individual expenses exceeds bishop and diocese support.

That is where the Sacristy Shop and Beth’s carefully chosen items play a role. From the sales of custom-designed NAGA sterling-silver crosses, note cards, aprons, totes, coolers, sacristy prayers, books and pamphlets, purificator stamps, transfers and memo pads, the effect is multi-fold:

• Friendships are affirmed and our community strengthened as altar guild members and clergy across the country give these items as gifts.

• The visible display and usage of NAGA items celebrate our ministry, promotes expansion and attracts new altar guild members as they see the value and need of this ministry.

• Attendance at Triennial of deserving altar servants who might otherwise not have been able to attend.

The Sacristy Shop is presently located in the Stripping Room on my farm in central Kentucky. For those of you who do not live in a burley tobacco-producing state, a stripping room is chock full of memories. After tobacco was taken down from hanging on rails in the barn, it was carried into a light-controlled stripping room where farm family members of all ages gathered in front of a long table to strip leaves from the stalks according to color and grade, carefully hand-tying them for sale. A lifetime of stories and camaraderie, and the expectations of having money for Christmas, winter supplies and debt payment abound in these small buildings throughout the burley states. They make a stole of a legion of family values and shared griefs — remembering when sons were killed in battle, daughters buried babies, calves died, markets faltered, crops failed — as well as the joyous laughter of graduations, soldiers’ homecomings, toddlers’ new teeth, marriages, church celebrations and the mixed emotions of children growing up and leaving home in search of a good productive life where those values could thrive and spread.

Now where could you find a better place for the Sacristy Shop? A place steeped in the love of perfection, beauty, hard diligent work, persistent faith and optimism. This industry has been condemned, but the Stripping Room, like our own service of faith, continues this legacy of love, experiencing a resurrection of its own.

Look over our new inventory list. Join us in forging our bonds and sharing the rewards of our mission. I treasure the emails and conversations I have with each of you — as you select gifts to celebrate someone in your parish who has set an amazing example of service, mentoring, love or simply persevering responsibility.

Betsy Davenport, Sacristy Shop Chair

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