“…Church with hope for reclaiming past communal educational practices, renewing artistry even in utility and modeling cross-generational wisdom-sharing. ”
Many Christian institutional leaders know we need to lead change, yet the models for innovation that hews closely to our core values are few. The dominant narrative tells of scarcity and decline, especially in New England. As a leader of a 115-year old Christian ecumenical institution settling in for the long work of adapting new institutional expressions for Jesus’s promise of Christian unity, I hunger for artistry in my ministry of institutional leadership.
Using Greg Jones’s concept of “traditioned innovation,” I want to explore practices of quilting and mending as Scripturally-grounded, communally-shared, racially-inclusive models of Christian innovation. Quilting and mending do not discard the scraps of history, but rework them for both utility and beauty. To address these questions, I will undertake a threefold inquiry strategy of reading, practice, and pilgrimage. The African American women of Gee’s Bend quilted communally created beauty and utility in a place of limited financial resources. Northern Japanese homemakers mended their husband’s indigo fishing coats with white thread because other textiles were scarce, and with their limited palette developing the stylized Sashiko embroidery. British women took up the “make do and mend” mantra during World War II rationing, and a whole new generation is learning these practices now across “mending cafes” in the UK.