Old Clothes, Money, People

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Fashion Show 2015

Old Clothes, Money, People

At my recent monthly meeting with our Anna Chaplain, Helen Jesty, she spoke of her impressions of our Recycled Fashion Show. It was her first, and she cast a fresh perspective on its outcomes, reminding me that such events mean so much more than just money:

~ the weeks of obvious companionship through the winter that Judy and I had shared while sorting and pricing clothes

~ the idea that clothes don't have to be bought and binned, nor do they have to hang unworn and reproachful in the wardrobe, but can give pleasure to others in their reuse — as can so much more besides! Letting go is a perennial issue in all our lives: whether of possessions, of a loved one, of a home or even of our independence. There are common factors that can be practised

~ I've found visiting those who offer clothes has given an insight into a family wedding, holidays taken abroad, social events when a partner was alive — fertile ground for developing pastoral care of each other

~ the relationship with local retailers eg M&S who lent us rails, hangers and boxes, established through their Per Una manager, Heather, whose parents and grandparents come to Tuesday coffee mornings in our church. Can this be extended to other retailers in the town?

~ the teams of volunteers over 3 days: rails, clothes on rails, backstage dressing, modelling, alterations, preparing and serving coffee, selling, meeting and greeting — some are established members of our church, some are from other churches within GAP, some have no church connection, and form their opinion of "Christians" through how we work together and make them feel. Tertullian, an early Christian writer, observed that pagans often commented, "See how these Christians love one another." This is an opportunity to come alongside, chat while working, listen to and share experiences. Relationships are formed and deepened, from which faith conversations emerge

~ the role our minister took: working the sound and the screen rather than leading from the front, and his willingness to facilitate Janet's participation, by reliably yet discreetly offering her an arm of support — it doesn't always come in the form of "washing feet"

~ the audience who represented a cross-section of Alton and mostly attend no church regularly, yet found themselves sitting in one, without feeling uncomfortable, laughing with and recognising others they knew — and yes, they might come again!

~ the models who showed that we are each of value just as we are, coming in all shapes and sizes, and at different stages of life's journey — it's the taking part! In Quaker Life and Practice, one of the Advice and Queries is "live adventurously" — from time to time we need to peek beyond our personal comfort zone, or the security of the spiritually familiar

~ the opportunity to buy a fashionable outfit for oneself, when normally only necessities count. There are many families in the town on limited budgets, and buying a dress and matching jewellery or a designer label jacket for oneself, is usually a treat discounted by women, in favour of food for the family or paying domestic bills

~ being part of something that is fun, time-limited and for a good cause......
Water Aid has received a cheque for £1200, Alton Community Hospital will receive a cheque for £1200 when I have arranged a photo opportunity, BB has benefited by £50 ( the boys were invaluable in setting up for CAMEO's mini Fashion Show), Weyford Infant School in Bordon benefits by £50 ( a thank you the loan of staging) and church funds benefit by £300 with the idea of supporting Flower Ministry in particular.

"Come follow me, " Jesus said, " and I will send you out to fish for people" Mark 1

Having started with nothing, we end with nothing, but the ripples of just one event extend out locally and internationally — with God's help, it is always more than just old clothes or money! Thank you.

So, what's next?

Karen L Booker (Pastoral Assistant at AMC)

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