LS: Art of Quiting Column January 18, 2009

Quilt causes collection plate to overflow

When quilters and other needle workers put their collective hands together to raise money for their church, the women’s good fortune began to multiply like the biblical loaves and fishes that fed the multitude.

Their project was the making of a commemorative quilt representing various aspects of their congregation, First Congregational United Church of Christ in Grand Junction.

A new sound system was needed at a cost of $4,000, but the church trustees were hard-pressed to come up with the funds, which hadn’t been included in their budget.

The steering committee that coordinated this innovative fabric fundraiser wanted to raise $2,500 to $3,000 by selling individual components featured in the quilt.

The design concept was that of a wooden bookcase with five shelves containing many books, Communion vessels, a baptismal font, a Bible, a woven basket of loaves and fishes and a replica of the church itself.

These were sold to church members at prices ranging from $5 to $250. The names of the donors then were embroidered onto the corresponding fabric pieces.

The quilt, cleverly titled “A Sound Investment,” proved quite popular with the congregation, bringing in not only the entire $4,000, but more than $6,000.

If not a true miracle, the result definitely was a dream come true.

The Rev. Sharyl Peterson, senior minister, dedicated the finished quilt during the church’s Jan. 4 worship service, honoring all who participated for their creativity, industry and financial gifts.

“We are grateful for every person who contributed to this project and ask that they, and all of us, may be blessed ... ,” she said in leading one of the prayers.

The quilt, measuring 73 inches by 79 inches, was permanently installed that same Sunday in one of the church hallways.

Not only will the money replace the sanctuary sound system, but it also will upgrade amplifiers for people who attend and need help hearing. Any extra dollars will be used for upkeep of the system.

More than two dozen people worked directly on the quilt project, says church member and longtime quilter Annie Albrethsen.

The idea was one she had suggested four years ago for other needs, but no one seemed to share her vision at that time.

When she heard about the need for the sound system, Albrethsen says, she decided to pitch the concept again. This time, it was approved.

Joining her on a steering committee were Gail Mosher and Pam Grout. They started in April 2008 and divided such tasks as embroidery, sewing, quilting, bookkeeping and publicity.

“It’s made primarily of men’s silk neckties,” Albrethsen says.

She and Mosher both had a collection of old ties, and they poured them out and sorted through them for the most appropriate fabrics.

All of the books on the five shelves are made exclusively from the neckties.

The various components — some cross-stitched — were assembled and stitched down over
the summer and fall. Then in September, it was time to do the quilting.

“We worked three mornings a week to finish it before the end of December,” Albrethsen says.

Church members who were quilters helped, as well as some outside quilting friends of Albrethsen’s.

“And we trained four or five others,” she says with a smile.

At least two men helped with the project. Her husband, Al, named the quilt. Grout’s husband made a wooden device for hanging it.

The entire congregation deserves plenty of praise for making this project such a success.

As Peterson said during the dedication ceremony, “Together, we have done a beautiful thing.

Thanks be to God for dreamers, for makers, for givers of every kind.”

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