Knitting for the Kingdom
'We vandalised it with wool and creativity' - minister Michael Shaw introduces an initiative that has brightened up his community's main shopping street
For all the time I have lived in Devonport the main shopping street, Marlborough Street, has always left a lot to be desired.
With a few bric-a-brack shops, charity shops, a couple of greasy spoon cafés, a betting shop, a slot machine shop, a hairdresser, a couple of run down pubs and take aways, and a small Iceland and Co-op, it is not a buzzing town centre by any stretch of the imagination, even on good day.
It has always been a little tired.
Then last year the doctor’s surgery moved and footfall fallen by 1,000 people a week. If Marlborough Street was already struggling, things have actually worse.
We decided it needed some love. It needed to see some life.
We came up with the idea of vandalising it with wool, art and creativity. We started with a bench, decorating it with wool and pompoms, and hanging bunting from the trees. We moved onto another bench, then we weeded some flower beds, covering them in painted stones and painted plant pots. We started planting the odd flower. Then another local church provided us with wool squares so we sowed them to the trees.
We do not have a huge amount of money in the church, but this has brightened up the street and got people talking. People have approached volunteers asking them why they are doing it, while shop owners have supplied drinks and sweets. Feedback from passers-by include:
“It's crazy, but it's lovely,”
“You're all doing a great job”
“The street looks much better”
“It looks lovely”
Covering trees in knitted squares may not seem like a radical mission initiative, but it has got people talking. It is also bringing churches together in mission: we've had offers of knitted squares from other churches in the South West Baptist Association. Knitting groups are being inspired to knit for the Kingdom of God.
The Revd Michael Shaw is minister of Devonport Community Baptist Church, Plymouth