St Mary's, Great Dunmow St Mary's, Great Dunmow

Time Out at St Mary’s Church Great Dunmow

6 February 2024

The Rev Elsie Bouffler, shares the story of Time Out, a weekly drawing group at St Mary's Great Dunmow, that has brought people from across the community together.

St Mary's, Great Dunmow

Time Out began in June 2023 as a weekly summer evening drawing group which met at the riverbank walk behind St Mary’s Church, Great Dunmow. The sessions provide an opportunity for the community to come together, enjoy time out in creation and be creative. Due to its popularity, the group continued to meet beyond the summer months.

The Rev Elsie Bouffler, explains:

“Recognising how difficult we often find it to take time out of our busy schedules, the aim of Time Out was to provide an opportunity in the week where anyone from the community could quietly enjoy time out in creation and being creative.

The evening began with a reflection, poem or an image, to get us thinking and then the group were encouraged to draw in quiet, using basic materials provided. The emphasis was not on what was produced, but on taking time out to be creative.  We came together at the end of the session for coffee and to share what we had noticed and our sketches. This led to some deeper conversations and even some poetry written by one of the group. There was an invitation to a short service of Evening prayer in church afterwards, which many joined, often their first time in church.

As always, the Holy Spirit surprised us in many ways.

Although the intention was to run the group over summer, it was so popular we were asked to keep it going. So, from September, we moved indoors once a month to the church, which gave scope to try different mediums, materials and subjects.

Another surprise when we met outside, were the number of children who came with a parent and who enjoyed the quiet time with paper and pencil.

As the year turns, we are planning to switch back to being outside from May to July, every second week, and are currently considering the possibility of a separate children’s ‘Time Out’.”