The British papers have been having fun with the recent move of the Rev. Joanna Jepson to the London College of Fashion, where she'll serve as chaplain. And before you ask, yes it does happen to be Fashion Week here at GetReligion. Anyway, here is some sample copy: Is God the new black? How could a benevolent God permit the latest Roberto Cavalli collection? Heavenly bodies and unholy tantrums get God. Curate fashions a catwalk pulpit, etc. etc. But the papers quickly moved from the puns and cliches to more substantial analysis. Here's the Telegraph's take:
As someone who has long taken an interest in fashion, Miss Jepson, 30, feels that the Church should have a presence in the business. "The fashion industry has a huge impact and influence on vast numbers in our society," she said. "It has a particularly powerful role in shaping the self-image and views of young people, and it's important for the Church to be involved with this type of community. It's amazing that it hasn't had this link before."
The curate, who has previously criticised society's preoccupation with image, said that she was switching from full-time parish ministry to the fashion world because she could make more of an impact there. Miss Jepson, the curate of St Michael's Church, Chester, earns a stipend of around £16,000. She will be paid a similar amount by the college.
Miss Jepson, who will take up her post in September, believes that the Church needs to rethink how it tries to relate to popular culture. "We cannot merely remain in holy huddles in parish churches. It is imperative that there are more of these kinds of chaplaincies that reach into cultural networks and communities, which would otherwise be untouched by the Church."
Miss Jepson, whose publicity photo for the new job was quite fetching, is an interesting choice for this position. She is mostly known for her work fighting a move toward aborting unborn children with minor physical defects:
Miss Jepson was born with a congenital jaw defect and first hit the headlines in 2004 when she took her local police force to court while campaigning against two doctors who assisted in the abortion of a 28-week-old baby diagnosed with a cleft palate.
The papers had fun with the story, but they also took the religious angle seriously. Perhaps The Washington Post's Style section should take note.
Photo via Labantall on Flickr.