See explanation at end of pictures.
The new red Festival paraments dedicated on Sun. Oct 30th, 2011, represent many hours of work given by members hopefully to enhance the worship experience at St. Stephens on special occasions in the church year.
Inspiration for the idea originally came from the magnificent Altar Frontals in so many of the English Cathedrals. The dimensions of artistic excellence, creative interpretation of a theme, and the obvious dedication of the artisans involved in the construction of Altar Frontals, (especially the work of the Sarum Embroidery group at Salisbury, Wells and Bath) were among some of the most powerful visual symbols working together to create the awe-inspiring sacred space in the magnificent Cathedrals and Abbeys.
The practical application of these ideas originated with a project from Year 9 Christian Living Art that I taught at CornerstoneCollege. The classroom activity was simple, achievable and suitable for all skill levels, giving most the opportunity to take part. Maybe we could make a visual contribution to our worship space?
The Women’s Fellowship invited me to introduce the technique at one of their meetings and supported the idea of involving as many members as possible in a communal project. However we needed at least 75 panels and people prepared to put in hours of work!
I was overwhelmed by the response!
Some had never attempted anything like this, while others were very skilled and obviously experienced. Some chose to contribute one panel (all I expected) while others seemed to become almost addicted to stitching. Everyone chose their symbol from a selection of crosses representing different cultures and times in the history of Christianity. Materials were supplied, colours stipulated and sessions organised.
The most rewarding experiences for me were getting to know people better through working together, the support and encouragement given in so many ways, and seeing people enjoy the craft.
Comments from some of the participants include these:
‘In the beginning I was a bit apprehensive to start the Cross, because I had to work the pattern out myself. But after that was done, I enjoyed the tapestry, also the finished work I had done.’
‘Generally rising early, I found it a challenge and positive activity for the start of the day. Besides, I learnt something.’
‘I feel extremely proud to have contributed to this stunning display for our congregation to enjoy for many years to come.’
– Rae Kempe