The Hatton Vale Happy Crafters at Hatton Vale Community Uniting Church are using their creativity to serve others and model the love of God. Dianne Jensen reports.
The busy parking lot at Hatton Vale Community Uniting Church is the first indication that the Hatton Vale Happy Crafters are both happy and thriving. Inside, there’s a buzz of conversation and the long tables are chock-a-block with women engaged in a variety of craft projects from sewing and patchwork to knitting and card making.
Happy Crafters organiser and church member Gail McMahon is one of the six founding members of the group which started in 2015.
“We have 80 ladies (although we do have one man) now, but they don’t all come every week,” says Gail.
“Many of the group have formed friendships and a lot of them meet each other away from the craft group, which is what I really enjoy seeing. Some people have said to me that if it wasn’t for our group they would be sitting at home with nothing much to do, so they really value the company and friendship.”
Hatton Vale is in the heartland of the Lockyer Valley and the group draws people from surrounding townships including Gatton, Laidley, Helidon and Ipswich. With new housing estates planned and under construction, Gail hopes to include young mothers and children and more working women.
“I would like to reach out to them to give them some ‘me time’ and it would be great to see our young society members take on some of these crafts so that these skills won’t die out.”
Now retired, Gail is putting her business skills to good use with the help of key group members such as Leoni Lee. There are four sessions a week, with daytime groups on Mondays and Thursdays, Tuesday set aside for classes and an evening group on Monday night.
With a number of projects on the go at the Queensland Children’s Hospital, fundraisers such as the Cancer Council Biggest Morning Tea and an annual charity project, the Happy Crafters provide significant support for the community.
“Our charity for this year is providing the local aged care homes with quilts and crochet rugs for their beds, sitting-in chairs and wheelchairs. We also have made and are making quilts for our local schools for their sick rooms,” says Gail.
Duncan Barlow, pastor of Hatton Vale and Laidley Uniting Churches, says that faith and witness are at the heart of the church’s outreach to the local community.
“Our craft groups do not exist in a vacuum. They are part of a broader church which finds its identity in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Our members who head up our craft groups are conscious of living their faith out loud so that others know that they are members of our church, that Jesus shapes their lives, and that they are prepared to talk about spiritual matters should anyone wish,” says Duncan.
“We seek to be characterised as people who are loved by the Father and so love others in return, creating a welcoming environment whether it be in the craft groups or in our services.”
To find out more, visit hattonvaleunitingchurch.org.au