The Church – An unusual placement

I was sitting in church doing my knitting this morning (I can knit and worship, can’t I?) and pondering my intern year, which has been the focus of my attention for some time now.

What if the church hired a textile intern?

My Uni friend Sarah, once pondered a similar idea, what if architects had a textile intern and I think the savvy ones do. I mean, when they’re planning the interior of a building don’t they consult a textile designer? How else would they figure out how to put lighting in carpets unless they asked the textile designer who knows the answer?

But church, is this too far out of the box?

What if my church, The Salvation Army, hired me as an intern for a year?

Well, the cynics among us would suggest the uniforms would be better made. The material might change to a washable, yet not shabby style and the blouses would no longer be see through (I’m assuming the uniform was a mans design because a woman would notice the see through blouse with no Breast darts.

There might also be a change in how the uniform is made (yep, my bug bear) perhaps it’d end up cheaper or at least we might be reassured that it was ethically made, which I’m not sure it is.

On a local church sense, since we’re all taught CAD (computer aided design) the power points on Sunday’s would be amazing.

We would have bible based ‘quiet books’ available for all kids. Seriously, if your church hasn’t looked at quiet books as an alternative to the box of toys with dead batteries then shame on you.

The yearly sale of work (craft fair) would be rather stunning and involve the non-churched community.

Church publications could include knitting patterns and crafts that inspire rather than a token colour in page.

Imagine the publication of “Knits for Salvationists” which is quite funny because I’ve been working on a pair of mittens with the Army Shield on.

Craft groups at the church would be well attended by the community, and not just the card makers! (How many angry replies will I get about that comment?)

Imagine a church where we didn’t just appreciate musical gifts and the odd drama group, but events where people could explore their gifts as an artist or crafter. People being given pictures from God would be encouraged to draw what was shown them.

 Prayer shawl ministries would grow and improve the praying fellowship of the church.

Mental health communities have long since known the improvement to health that comes from art and crafts. If your church has several people with depression and you don’t offer crafts then are you doing a disservice to them and their health?

No matter what your membership status in the church, you’d be able to take part in a church activity (unlike joining the band or choir)

Imagine sending me off to a women’s community abroad where I taught women to spin wool and other fibres and make their own items on cardboard looms and old CD drop spindles. Turning communities into businesses with very little start up money.

Pop up craft events helping church people get into the community where it’s easier to start a conversation on knitting than on church, but the church conversations would come more naturally.

Imagine sending your little ones off to Summer camp and music school where options included art and crafts.

But then, writing this, I realise, I’m already in the church, I just don’t get the oppourtunities.

I wasn’t at my own church this morning, I’m working in London this weekend, but I sat in church knitting as usual. I wonder what people think of me knitting during church, but no one ever asks. No one hears my theory on knitting and worship. Or the importance of including all creative abilities in church.

Singers are always welcome, band players in demand, and the church can always squeeze in a dancer or actor, but an artist? A Crafter?

Is there a part for us in the everyday life of church? As we sit there listening to songs and sermons asking us to give our all, are we actually allowed to, are we given opportunity to show what we can do?

Published by bettyvirago

Betty Virago is an award winning textile designer. Based in Yorkshire, England, and known for her Northern Folk dolls and the Quilts of Hope project.

7 thoughts on “The Church – An unusual placement

  1. I recently left my church…my vicar, previously a professional musician shared ideas he had about creative arts in church…yet he fails to release musicians into their gifting by his micromanagement… and as a non musical creative there was only 1 time I ever had an opportunity to use my gifts. Dance wasn’t embraced…I would dance at the back behind the screen and when we moved into a smaller space there was no room to dance. Flags were not welcome. There is so much scope for using arts and crafts, but the only time I ever had the chance was when we got to adopt a shelf 1 Easter ( 1 occasion in 5.5 years!! As for knitting in church…that would be banned in my old church…despite it actually being an aid to concentration! You have lots of great ideas…I know of a couple whose adult daughter no longer attends church…but through a church based knitting group is starting to have conversations about faith. I know of a church which runs an annual art day – they give you a sheet with the theme (which basically tells you the gospel!) and then you are free to create whatever you want and it’s all free – its a really engaging non-threatening way to engage with the community.

    1. I love your comments to my blog, but this one is special. I love the idea of renting a shelf to decorate.
      Remember, ministers are taught the bible not management. So don’t be too harsh, forgive and move on, I’m a bit of a believer in shopping for the right church.
      The Salvation Army, although from my writing I sound a wee bit negative about them, are often my kind of relaxed about things, besides, I don’t ask whether I can knit, I just knit.
      I think churches are the most difficult places in the world to ask about trying new things. Sometimes it feels as though you have to be a member for at least a decade before being accepted as leader worthy, sometimes it feels as though you’ve got to be married to the right people in the church.
      If you’ve just left your church then consider being a church shopper for a while. Visit other churches, even those you’d never considered before, and tell people you’re just looking. Google local churches and write a list of those you can get to, make a promise not to pick one till you’ve tried everyone on the list. Treat it as though the church is applying to you for your attendance. Ask them what is available for you, tell them you like to dance and see their reaction. Ask them what they do for crafters, it might make them think about what they provide. Only after you’ve visited all churches on your list think about making a decision.
      Last year I attended Huddersfield Salvation Army, it was well out of my way and I didn’t stay more than a few months, but the healing and change from that short time was incredible. It allowed me to begin attending my local Salvation Army, Leeds West Hunslet. A church within walking distance, but one I’d never considered. For now, it’s the perfect church for me.

      1. The adopt a shelf was to save money on flowers…you can see the other shelves on my blog. I’ve been church lurking, having a couple of months with no pressure to settle, now I’m ready, and feel torn between 2 churches at either end of a high street. 1 charismatic, 1 evangelical. But unsure how either feel about women…especially single women! Today I visited both. For now can do 1 in morning and 1 in evening. Want to settle by the end of term

      2. Lovely, but don’t put a time limit on it, time will tell you which to choose.
        Single women… I think the bible is clear on the merits of being single. Personally, I wouldn’t allow anything in my house that just sat there asking where the remote is and when’s tea ready!!!

      3. You’ll know which one when the time is right, as for forming friendships, there’s nothing in the bible about having friends from other churches.
        Only you know the right thing to do though, do what your heart tells you.

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