October 26, 2013

Serving neighbors around the world

Lydia’s Market coming to First Baptist Church of Dalton

Submitted by First Baptist Church of Dalton

— First Baptist Church of Dalton will host a gift market called Lydia’s Market, featuring products from near and far, Nov. 1-4 in the church’s atrium.

Hours are Friday, Nov. 1, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 2, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 3, from 1 to 6 p.m.; and Monday, Nov. 4, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Cash and credit cards will be accepted.

The congregation is taking a unique approach to mission and ministry by hosting the market. All products sold directly benefit and empower their creators, individuals who struggle to find economic opportunity and stability. The ministries and organizations represented by each product boldly address issues like human trafficking, rehabilitation, refugees and poverty for people as close as Nashville, Tenn., and as far away as Africa.

Asked why First Baptist feels called to support ministries such as these, Heather Donahue said, “News reports tell us that a main thoroughfare for human trafficking is I-75, right here in Dalton and Whitfield County. As people of faith we need to take issue with that. Step one may be supporting communities who have been rescued from the sex trade.”

Lydia’s Market represents a new model of ministry that empowers people to use their God-given talents to support themselves. Fair trade empowers artisans economically and means the coffee picker and the basket weaver are paid a wage large enough to support themselves, their families and their communities in sustainable ways. It represents betterment in spiritual, social and economic avenues.

All of the ministries and vendors First Baptist is partnering with are committed to improving the communities of their constituents because a larger portion of the purchase price reaches the worker. Additionally, sustainable practices protect the environment from depletion.

First Baptist has had a partnership for several years with Amani ya Juu, one of the ministries whose products will be featured. Gail Duke recalled, “On one of our mission trips to Africa I saw firsthand the women making these crafts and heard their stories of abuse and poverty.  Their faces will forever be ingrained in my mind.”

You may recall the story of Lydia in the New Testament. At a time when women were commonly considered property, the book of Acts relates a story empowering women forever.

Lydia is described as a successful business woman who deals in expensive purple cloth. Clearly, she is a leader, and includes her entire household on her journey to Christianity. First Baptist has named the market in honor of Lydia’s story and understands the market as a missional ministry because it is an opportunity for our community to make a significant impact on individuals and communities around the world in a sustainable way.

One member of the planning team, Linda Mullinax, described her excitement about Lydia’s Market, saying, “Lydia’s Market gives each of us here in Dalton, Georgia, an opportunity to serve our neighbors in Nashville, Palestine, Africa, Thailand, Indonesia and all around the world, and to participate in their work of overcoming poverty and human trafficking. How else could I have the chance to help so many of God’s children while shopping, of all things? It’s truly a win-win.”

Mullinax also noted, “As a nativity collector and giver, I’m especially excited about the variety of nativities we will have at Lydia’s Market. Nativities crafted from Holy Land olive wood, from rolled-up paper in Africa, from crocheted yarn to make little nativities for children and more. Just can’t wait for everyone to see them.”

First Baptist will offer a wide range of products including jewelry, coffees, chocolates, baskets, scarves, bags, bath products, kitchen items, nativity scenes, ornaments and artwork. Prices range from $2 to $150.

There will also be a selection of ornaments featuring peacocks, a local symbol of Peacock Alley in Dalton. Some of the items even include the name of the person who crafted it. All purchases made at Lydia’s Market directly benefit the artisan and creator of the product.

First Baptist is not hosting this market to create any revenue for its own ministries. The congregation believes that the hosting of Lydia’s Market is a missional opportunity in and of itself by bringing goods from significant ministries around the world to the Dalton community.