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At Least George Conger Permits a Rummage Sale

This interesting tidbit came out during the last episode of Anglicans Unscripted:

For people raised at Bethesda-by-the-Sea in the 1960’s and 1970’s (as George and I were) this has some historical import: in 1968 the Vestry was highly disparaging of Bethesda’s rummage sale, which ultimately led to its end.  That in turn led to the founding of the ongoing rummage sale that is now The Church Mouse resale shop, a process described in my piece A State of Being.

As a side note, in a letter dated 1 May 1968 my father scolded William G. Cluett, Bethesda’s Vestry Senior Warden, as follows:

It is my understanding that the Vestry of Bethesda decided that it will defray the costs incurred by St. Mary’s Guild in preparation for the “Rummage Mart”.  Enclosed in our invoice No 403 covering the printing previously done which has been forwarded to you separately.  Originally it had been my intention to donate this printed matter to the Guild, but the expressed attitude of you and the Vestry precludes this at this time.

Aside from the above mentioned matter, I have learned of the rude and summary manner employed by yourself in dismissing the “Rummage Mart” and the ladies involved therein, one of which was my wife.

I do not question the authority of the Vestry in this matter, but I take personal exception to the attitude and manner directly to my wife.  I shall expect at an early time an apology to my wife.

My father’s relationship with the Episcopal Church in general and Bethesda in particular was never the best, but this incident did a lot to trash it and to make our home something less than an “ideal Christian” one.  It’s a lesson that’s relevant today.  Our ministers get much of the credit (or blame) for making our churches welcoming to people who are new or on the fringes, but lay people–especially powerful ones such as the Cluetts–can and do have an enormous impact of their own.


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