Cushioned ... St Paul's worshippers in Manuka are blessed with an amazing collection of kneelers - cushions for prayer.

Cushioned ... St Paul's worshippers in Manuka are blessed with an amazing collection of kneelers - cushions for prayer. Photo: Rohan Thomson

The congregation of St Paul's Anglican Church in Manuka don't think of it as an art gallery but it has, over time, quietly become one.

The church is home to dozens of original craftworks portraying almost all things bright and beautiful that, Christians believe, the Lord God crafted in His very busy week reported in the Book of Genesis. The church's artworks are needlework kneelers (cushions on which to kneel to pray), made and commissioned by parishioners.

This columnist was at St Paul's recently to admire and write about the swashbuckling new, and rafter-rattlingly powerful, church organ that has been installed. While on the organ's balcony with an unusual view of the pews below, I saw the wondrous sight of the plain pews decorated by the brightly coloured kneelers.

A close-up of some of the cushions, which feature Australian fauna.

A close-up of some of the cushions, which feature Australian fauna. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Parishioner Patricia Levick explains that the kneeler-quilting impetus began in 1988, when a visit to the church loomed of those celebrity Anglicans Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Philip.

There was a flurry of quilting to provide something distinctive for their regal knees.

That was just the beginning. Under the leadership of the late Betty Erskine, teams of quilters produced more and more kneelers for the church.

And still kneelers are being made.

Levick herself is at work on one while another parishioner, an ornithologist, is concentrating on one with a bird motif as a feature.

The reason the collection has such an emphasis on the natural world, Levick explains, is that the kneeler-makers have always had the general theme of rejoicing over and giving thanks for God's creation. And so there are lots of kneelers depicting living things God designed especially for Australia.

Many kneelers, Levick explains, have been made to commemorate deceased parishioners.