Trash or Treasure?

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“Is my antique valuable?” That is what people wanted to know. And they got answers at First Christian Reformed Church in Highland, Ind.

Rex Newell of Rex’s Antiques holds up an antique.

Residents were invited to bring their treasures to the church basement for a free appraisal by an antiques expert in a format similar to American Public Television’s “Antiques Roadshow.”

“Our ladies’ Bible study wanted to do a fun community outreach to get people into the door of a church,” said organizer Carol Oostman. About 50 people attended the event.

While there were no million-dollar finds, everyone’s item was appraised, and people learned a lot, Oostman said. “It was phenomenal—the appraiser was so entertaining and knowledgeable.”

The most valuable item brought was a violin, though further research was needed to discover just how valuable. A few antique toys also proved modestly valuable.

Overall, “we were left with the feeling that it was amazing how much stuff people think is really valuable and it’s not,” Oostman said. “It’s not eternal, it’s just stuff.”

Rex Newell, the antiques expert, said, “I break the news [that items are not valuable] to them gently. I emphasize that there is also sentimental value to consider.”

Several community members attended the event. Church members spent time getting to know the visitors, and if they didn’t have a church home, the hosts encouraged visitors to attend a service, Oostman said.

“We want to expand our ministry to include the broader community, the unchurched,” she added. “We’re already planning our next event.”

In March, the church hosted a free show by Christian comedian Jeff Allen, attracting about 400 people.

About the Author

Roxanne VanFarowe is a freelance writer who lives in the woods with her artist husband James and their five children in Hillsborough, North Carolina. They are members of Blacknall Presbyterian Church in Durham.