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Church draped in textiles to push mission and strengthen community ties

02 February 2018


An exhibitor at the exhibition

An exhibitor at the exhibition

A CHURCH near Cambridge was filled with ironing boards and draped in textiles on Saturday at an exhibition to celebrate and strengthen ties in the community.

The event at St John the Evangelist, Waterbeach, was hosted by a local environmental group, Living with Integrity, to draw attention to the impact of clothing on the environment, human trafficking, church life, poverty, and consumerism.

More than 350 members of community groups and businesses, including Ede & Ravenscroft, the Women’s Institute, the Guides, the Mothers’ Union, the Salvation Army, and the local day centre, displayed their creations, and taught sewing and other textile-related skills to some of the 200 visitors.

FRAZER MACMILLANAn ironing board draped in textiles, at an exhibition at St John the Evangelist, Waterbeach, last Saturday

The event — named Waterbeach Thread[ed] to reflect the weaving together of different groups, garments, and generations — raised more than £600 for Macmillan Cancer Care. The charity was chosen by a member of Living with Integrity who lost a family member to cancer in 2012.

The Associate Vicar of St John’s, the Revd Paul Butler, said on Wednesday: “We wanted to strengthen the connection and relationships between the church and the wider community, and to offer a warm welcome and generous hospitality that said: ‘This is your space, too.’”

Vestments, uniforms, wedding dresses, christening gowns, silk banners, clothing for premature babies, and prayer shawls for surgery patients were among the garments to fill the pews and porches of the church.

The secretary of Living with Integrity, Angela Brown, who organised the event, said: “The displays were designed to enhance or draw attention to the architecture of the church.” It was also a chance to “display and affirm the talents” of parishioners to the rest of the congregation, she said.

Among the more unusual displays were “twiddlemuffs” — a knitted hand muff with a tactile item attached for dementia patients to occupy their hands, and keep them warm, in hospital; a lab coat belonging to a parishioner, Dr Quentin Harmer, whose cancer-detecting invention featured in the BBC2 programme Trust Me, I’m a Doctor; and an old wet-suit to represent the publication of a new book, Marine Life, written by parishioner Dr Frances Dipper.

T-shirts had also been designed by the founder of Living with Integrity, Trevor Thorn, to challenge modern clothing slogans. They read: “If I won’t be worn, Let me stay on the shelf, and not landfill adorn.”

As well as creativity, the event was also about mission, Ms Brown said. “Our village is facing the development of a new town four times its size on its northern edge. We need to communicate differently, and to be imaginative, but we also need to be real and to honour the gospel. I hope that Waterbeach Thread[ed] did that.”

FRAZER MACMILLANA T-shirt emblazoned with the words of a protest poem

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