When they started photographing women of St James church for an exhibition, Keith and Ruth Guthrie hoped to capture, through the lens, a wide range of inspiring women from our community who had a strong faith in common.
It wasn’t long before they realised that each of these women – from a variety of backgrounds, of all ages, ethnicities, nationalities, single, married, widowed and divorced – had a unique story to tell of life and of faith which took the exhibition to a deeper level than they could have imagined.
So they changed the name from “Women of Faith” to “Conversations with Women of Faith” to incorporate the conversations which had taken place with the women as they were being photographed. The result is a set of remarkable portraits with the subjects’ anonymous stories set alongside – it’s a project which speaks powerfully not only to women but to anyone on the journey of life.
“As we worked, we found we were having the most remarkable, candid conversations: the opportunity to learn more about each woman, and their uncommon stories.
It is impossible for a few photographs or lines of text to capture all that these women are, all they have experienced. We wrestled with how to convey the significance of the conversations we had had: in every conversation there was tremendous vitality and hope, and yet they have all been through tough times. “
“One of the fallacies of the Christian life is that it is an easy one. The Bible makes it clear that we should expect exactly the opposite. God does not call us to “be good” but to “have faith”, and the road is not straight or easy.
Each of these women has faced their own struggles, and yet they have grown in their faith in God, despite (or often because of) all they’ve experienced.
That faith has been an example and inspiration to us and in the exhibition we aimed to celebrate all that these women are. We hope that those who view the photos and read some of the stories will also be inspired to take the next steps of faith in their own spiritual journey.”
For more information about services, regular activities and special events at St James please go to www.st-james.org.uk
A selection of quotes from the exhibition:
I am living far from family, its difficult raising children without that support. You come into a community where no one is there to support you automatically. You have to make the effort to know people, but it’s not the same as having family.
I would love to be married. Maybe I’ll meet someone. Maybe I won’t. On a good day I offer God my pain and feel determined to build real community everywhere I go so that others can feel loved and valued too. I really think he uses our pain.
When my daughter was born with special needs, I was angry, scared and hurting. My faith turned a corner though when I decided to take ‘time out’ with God during Lent. It was something I had never seriously done before. It’s now become a rhythm for me each year – a special time to grow closer to Him.
My son is 28 years old and still living with us at home. You think when you are a Christian that everything will go smoothly, that drugs and bad things won’t happen to your children. But thats not how it goes. All you can do is love them and pray…
I am not afraid to die. The breast cancer doesn’t frighten me at all, I feel very peaceful about it. When it’s my time it’s my time. I know God loves me.
“I want to see you and share with you the same blessings that God’s Spirit has given me. Then you will grow stronger in your faith… We can encourage each other by the faith that is ours.” – Romans 1:11