CLERGY will be taking to the catwalk at NAEC Stoneleigh next week.
Up to a dozen church ministers from the West Midlands will strut their stuff at Clergy on the Catwalk, a presentation of ecclesiastical clothing at the Christian Resources Exhibition.
The two-day event on Wednesday and Thursday is often dubbed the ‘ideal church show’, and will be opened by TV presenter Timmy Mallett.
The exhibition features more than 150 charities, missions and church suppliers displaying everything from preaching aids to puppets, candles to computers.
Clergy on the Catwalk takes place on the first day of the show and one of the ministers taking part works at Kenilworth’s Stoneleigh Park.
Rev Claire Maxim is CEO at the Arthur Rank Centre, a national ecumenical charity which resources, trains and advocates for rural Christians.
She said: “I was nominated to walk the catwalk by my PA and office administrator! They have promised to whoop supportively as I appear. I have never done anything remotely like this before, and am bluntly dreading it but I often wear bright clergy shirts.”
Being diagnosed with peritoneal cancer will not stop Rev Deborah Sandercock, priest at St Margaret’s and St George’s in Prestwich, Manchester, from joining Claire.
Rev Sandercock said: “The cancer has involved intensive treatment and I have lost my hair twice. I went from blonde/fair hair to black, then no hair at all. One of the reasons for being involved in the catwalk is to show it is possible to live a full life with cancer.
“Physical and emotional changes in the body can result in diminishing self-esteem, so it is important to demonstrate you are the same person inside. As a vicar, I want to be easily recognisable for my role but I also want to bring brightness, colour and hope, especially to those living with the disease.
“My congregation never know what hat, hair colour or wig I am going to be wearing – but by doing so, I am allowing people to talk about it and my faith and role as vicar.”
A wide variety of formal and informal clothing will be displayed on the catwalk by ecclesiastical textile designers including Rev Naomi Nixon from Coventry and Lottie’s Eco from Stanford Bridge, Worcester, which makes clergy clothing out of biodegradable bamboo.
Other features at CRE Midlands include The Amazing Grace Spaces pod – an urban emergency sleeping hut. It measures 8ft by 6ft – with bed, toilet and USB socket. A potential life-saver for the homeless.
The man behind the project, Stuart Johnson, from South Wales, is keen to find churches prepared to donate a car parking space on which to locate one of his creations.
The Bishop of Coventry, the Rt Rev Dr Christopher Cocksworth, has welcomed the return of CRE to the Midlands.
He said: “I’m delighted that more than 150 specialist organisations will once again bring their skills, services, ideas and resources to Stoneleigh. I encourage people from all church traditions to enjoy a day of rich discovery.”
Chris Hartley, managing director at NAEC Stoneleigh, said venue was delighted to be able to host CRE Midlands.
He added: “This truly is a wonderful event, which showcases the work of some vitally important charities, while also putting a somewhat different slant on ecclesiastical matters as ministers prepare for the iconic runway walk!”
Visit www.creonline.co.uk for tickets and further details.