Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Real Pastors Quilt

It is Wednesday! After a night of politics, debating, and testosterone, it is time for Joyful News on Ministry. I found this story in The Jefferson City, Missouri News Tribune. I was impressed. This church has no web page. The pastor is temporary supply. But this little congregation has raised $30,000 that is used to purchase blankets in areas of disaster. The congregation does it with needle and thread. Check it:

Pastor takes a seat at church quilting circle
Salem Presbyterian Church participates in Festival of Sharing Program
By Ra’Vae Edwards

HOPE — For 26 years the Salem Presbyterian Church in Osage County has participated in the Festival of Sharing Program through its quilting circle.

To date, the hard work and dedication of the members of the quilting circle has raised nearly $30,000 for the program.

Pastor Joe Trower plays a major role in the program that encompasses nearly 200 churches statewide. Trower dedicates himself in more ways than simply supporting the program. The Festival of Sharing Program hosts an annual auction on the third Saturday in October.

Quilts donated from churches across the state are auctioned to raise money to fund the program’s blanket project.
This year’s auction will be on Saturday, Oct. 18, at the Missouri State Fairgrounds. Quilts from all across Missouri will be on display.

At Salem Presbyterian Church, the small group of quilters meets on Mondays. They volunteer several hours each week, adding their
unique touch to the many quilts they donate to the program each year.

And Trower is right there with them.

He’s not supervising the quilters and he’s not keeping track of supplies. In fact, Trower, just like the others in the group, comes loaded with full quilting gear — a threaded needle, a thimble and pride in helping his church and a worthwhile program he wholeheartedly believes in.

“I have been a supporter of the program for many years,” Trower said. “It has helped so many people and I am proud that our church has been involved in it since the beginning.”

The money raised through the Festival of Sharing Program’s annual auction is used to purchase thousands of blankets each year.

The blankets are donated to various entities during disasters. Most recently, Trower said hundreds of blankets were donated to families that suffered through the hurricane damage in the southern states.

Trower said blankets can serve a multitude of purposes and don’t always have to be “just a blanket.”

“They can be used as a tent or some type of a cover,” he said. “Sometimes they might even have to be used as a garment. Blankets don’t always have to be just for a bed.”

Since the program started
26 years ago, Trower said the Salem Presbyterian Church quilting circle has donated several quilts that have raised nearly $30,000. To date, the program has raised more than $670,000 through the quilt auctions.

Although the quilting circle has dwindled to only a few people, Trower remains positive that the art of quilting will bring in younger generations and the importance of the program it supports will keep them coming back.

Although it’s not often that a quilters circle involves the work of a male, for Trower it’s not only a passion, it is something he truly enjoys.

He said it allows him to rid the daily stresses life often brings and, at the same time, create something beautiful with simple scraps of material.

His love for quilting started with assisting his mother in piecing quilt tops many years ago.

“She ran out of anyone to help her and she didn’t have time to make the tops so she got me started,” Trower said. “I kept moving along with it and people were so generous in letting me sit beside them and learn the art of hand quilting. I really enjoy it.”

Trower compares piecing a quilt top together with piecing together life.

“You can make something very beautiful out of scraps of material,” he said “It’s sort of the way life is. We have to look sometimes at the ragged ends we are dealt and be able to look beyond that to see how beautiful life really is.”

Trower said he often quilts with other groups in Jefferson City, Morrison and New Haven, when time allows.

Here is a related story about the quilters in the church:
Alvina Noltensmeyer and Irene Koch are long-time members of the Salem Presbyterian Church’s quilting circle. Each of them have at least 60 years of hand-quilting experience, but Noltensmeyer shyly admits she has a few more years under her needle.

Koch said after she was married, she started quilting with her mother-in-law.

“My mother never quilted,” she said. “But after I got married, I learned how to do it. I was probably in my early 20s or so when my mother-in-law taught me how to do it.”

Koch said she has always enjoyed it and being part of the quilting circle at Salem Presbyterian Church only adds to her enjoyment.

Noltensmeyer learned how to quilt with her mother as a young teen. In fact, she thinks she was about 12, maybe 14 years old when she pieced a quilt top together for the first time.

“My mother always liked to quilt,” Noltensmeyer said. “She quilted for the church when I was a little girl.”

Neither of the women know for sure when the quilting circle started, but the best guess is more than 80 years ago.

“I cant remember a time when there wasn’t a quilting circle, Noltensmeyer said. Its been at least 80 years because I remember my mother doing it when I was a little girl.

And then there’s Elsie Uthe — the self-proclaimed “coffee cooker.”

“I cant quilt anymore,” Uthe said. “My eyes just won’t let me. I can’t see well but I love to come and sit with the girls. I cook the coffee for them and keep them company.”

Uthe and Koch grew up together in the Hope area and have remained friends.

“She made me start quilting,” Uthe said. “I never was a quilter. Didn’t even know how and she told me one day to sit down and do it. She said, ‘you can do it’ and so I did. That’s been about 30 years ago.”

Lucy Brenner joined the group in 1999 after she retired from Lincoln University. For Brenner, it’s the fellowship and privilege of spending a day with the ladies that keeps her coming back.

“I get to spend the day with the ladies,” Brenner said. “And, when you think about the (Festival of Sharing) program and how such a small church in the middle of nowhere could be such an important part of it, is amazing to me.”

When the quilting circle isn’t working on quilts for the Festival of Sharing Program, they do quilting for private individuals to raise money for the church.

That story made my day. I hope it did yours too.

Salute to Pastor Joe Trower, and all the quilters of the Salem Presbyterian Church of Morrison, Missouri!

Photos by Ra'Vae Edwards/News Tribune
From left, Lucy Brenner, Alvina Noltensmeyer, Elsie Uthe and Irene Koch work on a quilt Monday at the Salem Presbyterian Church during their weekly quilting circle.

John Shuck is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton Tennessee and he blogs at Shuck and Jive. Contact him with your joyful news at this E-mail.


Stushie said...

That's great and encouraging news for all of us, John. Thanks for sharing.

John Shuck said...

I really admire this minister. Especially when he was quoted:

“You can make something very beautiful out of scraps of material,” he said “It’s sort of the way life is. We have to look sometimes at the ragged ends we are dealt and be able to look beyond that to see how beautiful life really is.”