When Kathy Van Essen was invited to the weekly art and craft group at the Ulverstone Uniting Church, on Tasmania’s North-West Coast, she did not think she could master any of the activities on offer.
But, about three years on, Mrs Van Essen has found a hidden talent for watercolour painting, an activity she greatly enjoys.
“When I was first invited I said ‘I can’t do that’. Now someone I invited has got into card making and needlework.
“She had not done it before and now really loves it.”
Mrs Van Essen is the coordinator of Hidden Talents Art and Craft, a group which attracts about 60 people each week to the church hall.
The group’s size is impressive when you consider that it is about double the attendance of Sunday morning services.
Members participate in a broad range of arts and crafts including painting, hardanger lace work, jewellery, scrapbooking, card making, paper craft needlework and knitting.
“Someone leads each (craft) group and provides guidance,” Mrs Van Essen said.
But it is more than just a craft group. Mrs Van Essen said it is also a social opportunity for members, some of whom do not have a lot of regular contact with other people.
“We always have morning tea, and afterwards some of us go and have lunch,” she said.
“It is a good place to make friends and just talk. Sometimes we do not get a lot done because we are too busy talking!”
Members are also active in fundraising and already more than $2000 has been donated this year to a range of causes.
Some of the goods made are also packed into boxes as part of the annual Christmas Appeal run by Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief agency. Others are sold on a trade table to support the group’s fundraising efforts.
Despite the fact many of the members are not from the church, there is still a spiritual element to the gatherings with a weekly prayer time and regular devotions.
By Nigel Tapp
For more information on Mission and Service funding please visit: www.victas.uca.org.au/givingisliving