Summer 2018:

Making sacred garments . . .

to demonstrate dignity and honour. What does our outward appearance tell us about our relationship with God.

The Dorcas Dress Project is a Christian charity.  We support people out of situations of hardship: our application process does not discriminate against faith group, gender or background.  We are motivated to do what we do, out of our faith.  This newsletter is filled with responses for prayer: when two or more brothers and sisters are gathered and pray we believe our Father God acts as a heavenly Daddy, we pray in Jesus name.

Last month I submitted a post for the Oxford Community Church blog.  I’d been impressed by a verse in Exodus 28 where Aaron was given instruction about how his priestly clothes should be designed.  The purpose of the design was to give him dignity and honour God. I’d seen clothing as many things, but this was fresh: when I dress in the morning do my clothes demonstrate dignity and honour to God?  I'm being challenged about what my outward appearance says about my relationship with God. The motivation behind this project has much to do with this.
Our prayer in a nutshell:
~ that our beneficiaries receive dignity for making the dresses.
~ that our stockists demonstrate honour when selling our dresses.
~ that our customers understand the dignity and honour they give and receive when buying and wearing a dress.

Much has happened over this past six months and without our faith, our obedience in prayer, heeding prophecy and the much needed help of family and friends, it would not have happened.  In summary we are thankful to God for:
* Being awarded UK charity status.

* Having a more settled beneficiary in The Cotswolds.
* Making connections through others to a fairtrade producer in Sri-Lanka with the aim of selling dresses out of their beautiful ‘shot’ cotton fabric.
* Working closely with the Akinseye family to set up a group in the Ondo state of Nigeria.

Becoming a registered charity was by no means any small feat.  We’ve been asked why we wanted charity status, rather than the much simpler structure of a social enterprise.  “Dorcas was full of good works and acts of charity”, by being a charity we represent our namesake and it keeps us focused on our objectives.

Please pray for our integrity, openness and ethical responses to all that we do.

We have a more settled beneficiary, lovingly supported by her local church. Small beginnings, but we hope Father God will trust us with more. This has been a season of understanding who we are as a charity and how best to practice so we are very thankful for her patience.  God has provided extra hands to help grow the Gloucestershire group. We’ve also been really grateful for the enthusiasm of a local church in Cheltenham who have embraced sharing about our project and are supporting what we do.  Thank you Father God for always being (far more than!) one step ahead. Lord Jesus, help us to hold onto that, especially at times when we see little progress.

Publicly identifying as a faith organisation often affects how people respond to us.  We hugely value and appreciate those boutique owners and buyers that see life from a place of peace and justice, especially as our economy is quite unstable at the moment.  Please stand with us and pray for small business owners, that their hard work would be rewarded. Our specific prayer need for our Gloucestershire group is to increase our outlets and sales.  Without either of these things we are suffocated by what we can practically and financially do to support people out of situations of hardship.

This fair-trade fabric from Sri-Lanka has just arrived.  This is a sneaky preview of the 3 shades we have available, aren't they stunning!  These dresses will very shortly be available from the Fairtrade shop at St. Michael's in Oxford. We're hoping we can entice a few more stockists with this range, although patience is required as fabric takes a while to arrive.  Please pray for fair-trade producers, that the honour and dignity they give to the craftspeople they support will be respected and appreciated by many customers.


Our contact in Nigeria is spending the summer here in the UK.  She is helping us engage her UK network with the project. The women we will be supporting are poor.  We want to offer them our charity and good works, like Dorcas did in Acts. The project has the opportunity to give hope and stability.  We have encouragingly received £1250 of donations in the last few months. We need a further £2000 to meet the minimum practical requirements to run the project. Ideally we need to achieve a £4500 target so we can provide generously and honour this group in the Ondo state of Nigeria.

We have approached a number of trust funds and applied for grants.  Please pray for the trustees and board members to be captivated by our vision and to see the difference this project would make.  Please pray with us that our fundraising targets are met. We thank God for the connections Father God has already made. He has ordained meetings and conversations that we are yet to see.  Please pray as we correspond with Nigerian fabric suppliers and boutique owners that we shine with honesty, truth, integrity and the joy of the Lord.
We have a transparent pricing policy. We have placed The Dorcas Dress Project within a corrupt and greed driven industry, where our norm markers for what we value are often skewed.

We are currently taking orders for dresses to help raise funds to set up the producer group in Nigeria.  We are selling them in the West for £79 each, every pound going into our fundraising budget. Our target is to receive orders for at least 20 dresses, raising upwards of £1600 towards our target. Please do considering ordering one.

When a dress is made in a less economically developed country, like Nigeria, and then sold in a more economically developed country, like the UK, choices have to be made about who should benefit from the ‘excess’ in economic difference.  We are a charity and our beneficiaries are our main concern and the object of our organisation. It is therefore right that our beneficiaries should benefit from this economic in-balance. The story of the vineyard owner in Matthew 20 has been the influence for this decision, in verse 4 the vineyard owner explains to the workers that he will give them whatever is right.  We need to be continually mindful that our western wealth does not begrudge this generosity (verse 15). We are aware that this is quite an alien concept, by doing this we are stepping beyond even fair trade principles. Please pray with us that potential customers understand this alien concept, that we meet or even exceed our sales order targets and that we are able to do far more than we even
imagine as we set up this producer group in Nigeria.
WHAT MORE CAN YOU DO?
~  follow us on social media, share our posts and talk about what we are doing.
~  donate to our fundraising campaign, it only takes 100 people each gave £10 to raise £1000.
~ buy or order a dress: it's kinda the point!

All this will enable us to grow, supporting more people out of situations of hardship.

Thank you for getting this far, the first of anything is often the longest.
I pray that you each witness the love of God in your day to day activity.

Maria

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