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What’s Up at ‘The Makery’?

 Miramar Corps is getting creative about friendship-making for those with a crafty bent.

Are you one of those people forever saving things on Pinterest and telling yourself ‘one day I will make this’, but ‘one day’ never rolls around? Perhaps you’re too busy, you don’t have the right equipment, or it feels overwhelming and you don’t know where to begin.

Miramar Corps may have had you in mind when they launched ‘The Makery’—a creative craft and DIY community that’s all about getting together, making cool stuff and eating delicious treats.

The purpose of The Makery is to create a space for people of any age or gender to meet others in the community and build friendships. Making friends is not as easy as one might think, despite what Facebook might have us believe. So this kind of space offers a great chance to develop connections around a shared interest in craft.

But don’t think this is your typical church craft group with hot glue guns and pipe cleaners! The Makery feels like interior design style meets Pinterest.

The Makery takes place every six to eight weeks, and each event has a catchy name that gives a hint to what’s on offer. ‘Big Clay Out’, ‘To Dye For’ and ‘It Grows On You’ are just some of the creative nights held since The Makery launched in May last year.

Hannah Medland and Vanessa Singh, the creators of this outreach into their local community, said they ‘wanted to create a cosy, comfortable space to craft’, hoping regular gatherings would ‘create a sense of community’ and something for people to ‘look forward to’.

‘A common interest like craft is a great way to bring people together. Often you don’t have the motivation to get into it on your own, so having a group of people that comes together, learns some new skills and has lots of fun “making” was a cool chance to meet that need,’ they said.

You could be forgiven for not realising The Makery is a Salvation Army-led gathering at first glance. There’s not the typical Red Shield branding on any of the promotion, an intentional and strategic move with backing from Miramar’s corps officers.

The thinking was that The Makery would be a wider appeal than just church people and that those that came along would be encouraged to take ownership of the community Hannah and Vanessa were hoping to create.

‘We don’t call The Makery a church ministry as such; we’ve decided it’s more of a community programme that some of our church friends happen to come to. So, in all our thinking/planning/marketing, we’re thinking of how to interest and welcome those in our community we don’t know—and this has had great results.’

The women use social media to market the events and connect with those outside of church circles. Their Facebook event is open for booking at 10 am on a Monday morning and is always fully booked before the event takes place a few weeks later. There is a waiting list for those who missed out and are hoping for a spot to open up.

Many people these days attend a church at the invitation from a friend, and there has been a real shift over recent years in the journey of faith. It is now a common experience that people will belong before they believe. Feeling like you belong is so important in our modern world, where people can experience isolation like never before.

The Makery is one of those spaces that allows people to develop a real sense of belonging without ever having stepped inside the building on a Sunday. It’s also the ideal opportunity for church members to come along because they want to be there, and where can then naturally form relationships with people.

‘As these friendships develop, we know there will be genuine and organic ways to share our faith with these new friends. We would never want to force people to come to any of our church programmes or listen to our “preaching” without that established base of trust and friendship,’ say Hannah and Vanessa.

There is a positive atmosphere at The Makery, with lots of laughter and a buzz of excitement about what each night will bring. There’s usually at least one or two people with a little trepidation on their faces at what might appear above their skill level. But by the end of the night there are plenty of great examples of creativity on display, full bellies from the delicious food, and new and developing friendships made.

And it all began with Hannah’s passion for craft and Vanessa’s idea to bring that to the masses … well, to Miramar, at least. By all accounts this venture has the makings of a great gathering point within the local community.

by Shar Davis (c) 'War Cry' magazine, 3 September 2016, pp 19
You can read 'War Cry' at your nearest Salvation Army church or centre, or subscribe through Salvationist Resources.