During prayer time in late February, it became clear to Jerriann Massey, a Tyler quilter, that she needed to start a Christian quilt guild. She dreamed about it overnight and was convinced the next day that if she started one here, it would grow.
Her vision was that the guild would be “mission oriented, meaning we look for ways to serve the community through quilting,” Ms. Massey said, adding they also provide education and ways for quilters to learn.
Ms. Massey and her friends began spreading the word about organization of the Christian Quilt Guild, lining up speakers and looking for a meeting place.
Thirty-one women from around East Texas showed up for the first meeting in April at The Hospice of East Texas in Tyler.
Hospice became the group’s regular meeting place on the first Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. Meetings are at night so that working women can attend. The program usually features a speaker to inspire and teach quilters.
The first speaker was Karen Thornton, a well-known Tyler quilter, who gave her testimony and talked about her quilts.
Other speakers have included Ms. Massey talking about her quilts inspired by scripture; Alice Fretwell, of Henderson, speaking about her missionary work with a ministry in Bangladesh; Shannon Lutner, volunteer coordinator for hospice; and Cecelia Brannon, a Tyler quilter.
Members of the new guild were so enthusiastic that they started a Sew Day for a few hours on the second Saturday of each month at the Tyler Area Senior Citizen’s Association activity center in Whitehouse.
About a dozen quilters usually participate in Sew Day, when they make something to meet needs in the community, and Ms. Massey teaches a free lesson showing them a technique, such as a French braid.
The Christian Quilt Guild works on one of its three projects each Sew Day.
The guild adopted a project launched last year by Ms. Massey and her friends involving the making of quilts for low-income children on The Salvation Army Angel Tree because they do not get many gifts for Christmas and may need a quilt to keep warm.
“We want these children to be warm in the winter, but we (also) want them to feel loved,” Ms. Massey said.
The Christian Quilt Guild has almost a hundred quilts in the making for Angel Tree children this Christmas. The Quilters Guild of East Texas has partnered in the undertaking and is expected to produce two to three dozen more. The children’s quilts feature bright, lively designs.
In addition, Christian Quilt Guild has made 14 quilts the size of hospital beds for patients at The Hospice of East Texas. The hospice quilts feature calming designs.
In another project involving hospice, Christian Quilt Guild members are making what are called small lap size “busy quilts.”
The guild plans to furnish about 40 of these quilts for hospice volunteers to use in working in the community with people who have dementia or Alzheimer’s and who live at home.
Since dementia patients like to fidget and to feel things, the busy quilts are made of different textured and different colored squares of fabric. Buttons, ribbons, zippers, buckles and other things adorn the quilts. Busy quilts not only give dementia patients something to fidget with but also may help with memory loss and cognition.
“What we are trying to do is meet needs as they arise,” Ms. Massey said of the guild’s various projects.
For Pat Flanagan, a Tyler newcomer, joining the Christian Quilt Guild has provided an avenue to associate with Christian friends, meet new people and learn new things. It has also provided her an opportunity to do something that is going to benefit someone else.
“You are giving of yourself. When we give, we get more than we receive,” she said.
Terry Gill, of Frankston, a quilter for 25 years, said she is happy being creative and enjoys doing for other people during the guild’s Sew Day.
Ann Alpert, a Tyler quilter, said, “I love the fact that we are giving to others who hopefully will be comforted by what we do, be delighted and feel blessed.”
Neta Brown, who assisted in formation of Christian Quilt Guild, said members care about each other and care about others and love the Lord. “Ministry is what we do,” she said.