September 22, 2017
From September 1 through to October 4, Christians around the world lift up the Season of Creation.
Congregations across the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada are invited consider how they might engage in worship that deepens their ties and connections to creation with a focus on renewing commitments to climate justice.
Lutheran Church of the Cross in Victoria, B.C. is responding to the call in a very unique way.
For congregational member, Don Storch, it was the back page of the July/August 2017 issue of Canada Lutheran that provided the inspiration to get involved. “It talked about how this liturgical emphasis on creation came about,” he says. “And as we were talking about this on the board of worship several months ago, one of our members, Lynn Jones – who is a weaver – said that she would be very happy to lead a workshop in dyeing fabric naturally.”
Not long after that initial meeting, 15 congregation members of all ages assembled on the front lawn of the church to learn about the fine art of Bengala dyeing.
“We dyed some prepared cloths and strung the fabric up on clotheslines to dry,” Storch says. “The material was very thin – somewhat like a cheesecloth. There were many pails of dye and everyone took turns putting the bits of fabric into the dye, squeezing it and kneading it until it turned to the right colour. It was then hung it up on the clotheslines to dry. The following week, the fabrics were hung in the church on display.”
Bengala dyes are natural earth pigments, and although most commonly used in Japan, this technique was first used in the Stone Age. Created from the soil and consisting of iron oxide minerals, Bengala is known as a ‘mud dye’. These dyes do not require a mordant or hot water to prepare. The only requirement is the ability to knead the natural dye into the selected fabric. And important feature of this dye process is that is non-detrimental to the environment and ecologically safe because the elements easily break down into the earth upon disposal.
“This was certainly a marvelous way to raise awareness of the Season of Creation,” Storch says, noting that the event drew interest from both new and long-time members. “We also had lots of dog walkers and other onlookers stopping by since we were out on the front lawn. They would casually walk up to us and ask what we were doing, how it worked, what is was for, and what it was like. It was a great chance to spread the creative mission of our church.”
The natural dyeing exhibit in the church is not the only way the Lutheran Church of the Cross has lifted up the 2017 Season of Creation.
“Recently we have actually changed the order of our service to reflect the emphasis on creation,” says Storch. The theme has also been emphasized sermons and children’s lessons. The congregation intends to display the fabric until Reformation Sunday, “which will remind our members of the Season of Creation on each and every day leading up to the Reformation.”