The Knitted Bible Project (Balham)

The Knitted Bible project
a fun exhibition of stories from the Bible for all ages

Story
Since 2013 St Andrew’s URC in Balham, SW London, have been putting on an exhibition of Bible stories using knitted figures of about the size of an average nativity scene. The exhibition lasts for a week, when around 1,000 children from local schools visit it, as well as neighbours and friends. It has become a popular annual event and the church has been surprised and delighted by the interest shown in the event, the fascination of the children and the profound conversations. The idea and original exhibition came from St George’s URC in Hartlepool, but now St Andrew’s has a weekly craft group where all the knitting and making of props takes place.

The Knitted Bible exhibition has put St Andrew’s on the map, opened up the Bible to new generations and involved people that didn’t know they could contribute so powerfully to the mission of the church.

Notes

PRACTICAL

Where did the idea come from? How did it start?
Our church secretary was browsing the internet and came upon the Knitted Bible made by St George’s URC, Hartlepool

Who is it for and what need is it meeting?
It meets the needs of the primary school curriculum and is for people of all ages who are not regularly exposed to the biblical narratives. It addresses a widespread ignorance of the Bible stories; it involves church members in mission; it contributes to community cohesion. It also involves the participation of isolated people who are mostly housebound, but who enjoy knitting

What preparation did you do? (research, consultation, etc.)
Consultation with local primary schools and church members. Found a van to pick up the original exhibition, liaised with St George’s. Discovered a knitting book to provide our basic patterns.

What resources did you need (money, people, expertise etc.) and how did you find them?
Small amounts of funding for basic materials (wool and MDF for scenery plus printing of badges to give away and refreshments for cheese and wine evenings) provided by church and kind donations. We needed knitters; some were already within the church, others drawn in through friendships and volunteers after the first exhibition. The professionals have taught the beginners so we are growing our own.

Who have been your partners in this project?
Local primary schools and our neighbours.

How did the congregation get on board?
They talked about it with friends and neighbours; they asked knitters to help; they helped publicise the event, they contributed time and materials and they invited people to come.

What were the key steps to get from idea to day 1 and how long did it take?
Conversations with local schools; getting the original exhibition to London; organising publicity – this took around six months.

What legislation did you have to deal with?
We were aware of child protection issues and made sure that teachers were responsible for children at all times

IMPACT ON COMMUNITY

What impact has this project had on the life of the community
It has helped people re-engage with the biblical narrative; or to engage for the first time. It has had a small interfaith impact as common stories have been discovered, to some delight.

How has this changed the relationship between the church and the community?
It has helped our neighbours and local schools engage with our church, which they now see as a safe and welcoming place. Children especially have become friends with the church and its members.

IMPACT ON THE CHURCH

How does the project connect with your faith and mission?
The church was originally planted as a mission to the area. For many years, with a changed demographic, church members have felt that they had little to offer the community.

How has the life of the church been transformed because of this project?
The church has not been transformed but there is a significant change as we realise that we have a message to offer to local people in a way that interests and engages them. The church has become a little more outward looking and confident.

Additional resources and weblinks
Jean Greenhowe’s ‘Christmas Special’

Contact details
Revd Helen Matthews
Phone – 07805 537686.
Email – [email protected] www.balhamandtootingurcs.org.uk

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