When Lillian Willard’s daughter started a quilting ministry, she wasn’t sure how long the ministry would last.
But 20 years later Beck’s Baptist Church’s ministry goes on.
“It’s my therapy at night,” said Willard, who is now in charge of the ministry in Winston-Salem. “I enjoy what I’m doing. There’s always something to do with something if you just look for it.”
Along with all the church’s homebound members, about 100 Hurricane Katrina survivors received quilts. They are given to the homeless, the American Red Cross and other ministries.
Willard said everybody chips in with materials. The son of a late member of the quilting group continues to use his connection with a furniture company in High Point to provide the women with batting.
“The quilting ministry has been real good,” she said. “It has been real helpful” to those who’ve been recipients also.
Last year, one of the quilts took first place in the group category at the Dixie Classic Fair in Winston-Salem.
The group, which averages between six and eight women, also makes other things.
They’ve added baby quilts, and some of the ladies make cancer hats.
Willard said she crochets hats at night too. She’s made about 80 in the last three months.
During Vacation Bible School, Willard gave a demonstration about how the quilts are made. Girls in Action helped cut out material for the cancer hats.
Toboggans, lap quilts and diaper bags have all been on the sewing block for Beck’s.
They’ve even taken unfinished jogging pants, completed the project and gave them to Red Cross for burnout victims.
At Corinth Baptist Church in Elizabeth City, the Corinthian Quilting Group has been meeting since 1991.
Sara Sexton, who has been quilting since her middle grandson was born almost 30 years ago, began quilting because “it had been a lost art.”
Sexton’s mother quilted, and she has sewn all her life.
“A lot of people are interested until they find out the mechanics,” she said. “You either love it or you hate it.”
Interest in quilting spurred Sexton to start the ministry. They discuss new techniques and share materials. The group takes time off during the summer months but usually meets regularly from September through May.
“Our main focus was just to get together as friends to learn how to quilt,” she said.
She said the ministry wasn’t started to help outsiders but to teach the women who wanted to learn.
Helping others has come as a byproduct though.
Recently they have been working on lap quilts for the Linus Project, which provides blankets to individuals in trauma situations.
While she was still working full time, Sexton began to take classes at a community college: cake decorating, flower arranging, etc.
“When I finally found quilting, that was it,” Sexton said. “Everybody that goes really enjoys it. They enjoy creating the art, seeing what they can do with the fabric, how colors come together.”
Operation InAsMuch inspired the idea for a sewing class at Oaklawn Baptist Church in Winston-Salem.
“I had some little young girls that would stand over us as we were doing our sewing projects,” said Linda Fountain. “As we were sewing I got the idea.
I felt that the need was there.”
Since then she went to the pastor and asked about teaching a sewing class. The first class met Sept. 13 and attracted 10 people.
“This is the first time we’ve ever done this,” she said.
Fountain’s granddaughter was the youngest participant at eight years old. She almost completed an apron during the two and a half hour time together. The oldest participant was in her 70s.
Fountain said she recruited a talented seamstress in the church, and they offered their services to those who wanted to learn or just wanted help getting to the next step in their project.
One of the ladies brought a new machine, one she was scared to even thread for fear of messing it up. She left with two finished pillows.
Fountain plans another meeting next month.
“All I did was make a pot of coffee,” said Fountain, who used leftovers from the men’s prayer meeting to feed the ladies. “We just visited and just truly had an enjoyable time. There was no schedule. There was no ‘you have to do this.’”
Fountain said her church is very mission minded. The ladies group got together one night and made 200 salvation bracelets to send to a coastal seamen’s ministry.
“We’re looking for things to do all the time,” she said. “This Operation InAsMuch just brings out the best in people. And we have such a good time.”