Picture credit: The Daily Telegraph

Model vicars wanted for fashion catwalk

The search is on for catwalking clergy – ministers, priests or vicars who are happy to model the latest in clerical fashions at a show in Bristol this month.

The Christian Resources Exhibition West show, which will be held at the University of the West of England on January 23-24, is expected to attract members of the clergy from across the region, as they look for that chi-chi stole or must-have mitre.

But organiser Bill Allen is keen that the models taking to the catwalk are real clergymen and women, rather than models in dog collars.

"There is no modelling experience required," he said. "All denominations, shapes, ages – and both genders – will be considered."

A wide variety of formal and informal ecclesiastical clothing will be displayed by leading designers like Hayes and Finch and Juliet Hemingray, as the show comes to the city for the first time.

Juliet Hemingray believes the surge in women clergy have brought a fresh look to clerical clothing.

"They won't put up with worn-out robes," said designer Ms Hemingray, whose Church Textiles company specialises in ecclesiastical wear. "This has also had an influence on male clergy."

Each cleric who takes to the catwalk will be given £50 as a thank you.

Open to the general public, CRE West, dubbed the "ideal church show", will feature more than 170 charities, missions and church suppliers displaying everything from heating systems to evangelistic puppets, candles to computer software. Organisers say demand for space at the event has been strong – so much so that they have been forced to increase the size of the show floor.

As well as the unlikely fashion shows, a series of seminars, given by ecclesiastical experts, will cover issues of concern to local church leaders and congregation members, from bishops to parish magazine editors.

The Bishop of Bristol, the Right Rev Mike Hill, said: "I have been going to CRE in London for more than 20 years and am delighted we now have our own exhibition in the West – and in Bristol for the first time in its history.

"CRE not only provides church leaders, workers and volunteers with all there is out there to resource their mission, it opens them up to new possibilities. It is an opportunity not to be missed."

Paul Trott, head of marketing for CRE's parent company, Bible Society, said: "The response from exhibitors, including many new ones from the area, has been terrific.

"Whether they are displaying photo-copiers or communion wine, retreat centres or sound systems, our exhibitors are discovering vital new contacts, many of whom have never before been to a CRE show. Providing innovative resources for churches of all traditions is what the show is all about."

Clergy wishing to take part in Clergy on the Catwalk should contact Steve Goddard on 01744 733898 or 07930 198209 or email stephen_goddard@btconnect.com.

Story from the Bristol Evening Post, 31 Dec 2012

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