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June 5, 2011

Freedom Ministries Thrift Store more than a business

FAIRMONT — Freedom Ministries Thrift Store is a business, but is also trying to become a ministry.

This nonprofit thrift store opened about a month ago along old Route 73, two miles north of Gabriel Brothers on the left. Customers can look for the sign that says “Indoor Yard Sale.” The shop, which buys, sells and trades items, is open to the public from 9:30 a.m. to around 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Pastor John Wyrick, who has been involved in ministry for about 25 years, explained that part of Freedom Ministries’ approach to entering a new area involves first establishing a thrift store. As customers visit, that business helps create a network of people and eventually leads to the formation of a congregation, which a church can then be created around.

One portion of Freedom Ministries Thrift Store is similar to an antique or vintage collectible shop, and the other section is like a huge indoor yard sale. The business sells furniture, glassware and household items, as well as musical instruments, artwork, vintage toys and T-shirts, and record albums, Wyrick said.

“Much of the product that is sold comes from donations,” he said. “We do receive donations of good, usable items.”

Because Freedom Ministries is licensed and registered, tax-deductible receipts are given for donated items. Wyrick also purchases some of the higher-end items, such as musical instruments and collectibles, for the store if they have enough resale value.

“Freedom Ministries is really a small group of churches that were birthed out of grassroots evangelism,” he said. “Where there are congregations, there are church services. It would best be described as a ... nondenominational, charismatic outreach, very consistent with an Assemblies of God-type service.”

Wyrick said Freedom Ministries has about a dozen churches, with the nearest affiliate in Markleysburg, Pa. Churches are also located in North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi and other states. Wyrick, originally from Bradenton, Fla., moved to Fairmont in October, and this will mark the first Freedom Ministries outreach in West Virginia.

Because of the nature of how Freedom Ministries grows as a congregation, it typically attracts people who are new believers or converts and sometimes first-time church-goers, he said.

“The mission of a church is never supposed to be to attract people who are already believers — it is supposed to be to reach those who are not,” Wyrick said. “Much of the time people coming in looking for a bargain find out there’s more than that.”

In addition to the thrift store, Freedom Ministries offers friendship, fellowship and a message of hope, he said. The networking that results from Freedom Ministries’ business end helps draw people together to form a core group.

Upon establishing a network of people, Freedom Ministries would meet at the thrift store location and utilize the two floors and 4,000 square feet of space there for evening church services, Wyrick said.

He said the building is still in need of extensive renovations, and volunteers have been helping with the cause. By the end of the summer, the furniture room should look brand new.

“I’m very pleased and excited about how things are going,” he said of the thrift store. “Of course, I’d like to see much more, but at the same time I’m very pleased with the reception from the community.”

For more information about Freedom Ministries and its Fairmont thrift store, call 304-612-7073.

Email Jessica Borders at jborders@timeswv.com.

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