Quilting is an ancient tradition. It can be traced back to Biblical Cultures, Ancient Egypt, Oriental, and Arabic traditions. The Latin word “Culcita” simply means the process of sewing and stuffing padding between layers of cloth.
Our church has a quilting group. And I love our quilting group. I mean, I don’t quilt personally, but I admire it. Paradise has been a church in some form or title since 1863. A recorded church history mentions “A Ladies Aid Society” that held quilting parties and made bonnets and aprons as far back as 1880. The current iteration of the quilting group has been making quilts and various items for nearly 60 years. In addition to making quilts for people in the church and community, it really is a ministry. They have made quilts for the Crossroads Children’s home in Indiana and make a wall hanging for every baptism. When you enter the building, you are met with beautiful quilted tapestries hanging in the main lobby.
Not every church has a quilting group. If you happen to go to big church, you will find lights, screens, professional bands, video graphics, awesome facilities. All of which is good and fine… but they don’t have a quilting group. Maybe newer or larger churches might snicker at the idea of a quilting group. Perhaps thinking it is a remnant of a long past season in church life and American life as a whole. Quilting just feels so yesterday. But not anymore.
Quilting requires skill, patience, and wisdom. Jesus gives us some supposed common sense in the book of Matthew 9:16. “But no one puts a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and a worse tear results.” Jesus says this to a crowd who obviously understood it. But I would never have gotten what Jesus was saying. I am not a quilter, and if I started quilting, I would probably would put all kinds of wrong pieces together and think nothing of it. New, old, improperly measured, mismatched colors, uncomplimentary pieces, rushed work. That is why I am not a quilter, and why I admire them so. They have something I lack. Getting it done and doing it well are two very different things.
So just when you would think this group was just carrying on a fading tradition soon to be forgotten, the most amazing thing happened. A global pandemic. Now, yes there is much negative that has sprung from this. Live Sunday services have been moved to online only. Our summer plans for missions trips were cancelled, along with summer camp, sports, eating out, malls…you get the picture.
But there is one bright spot. Our quilting group! The group in cooperation with our missions team got together and started working. If we can’t bring people to service or help on a missions trip…what can we do? Well, people need masks.
And so, we have been busy making masks. The Paradise Quilters, aka Paradise Mask Factory has risen to the challenge. The group made and shipped 190 masks to Crossroads Children’s Home in Ft Wayne Indiana at their request, gave 40 to our local hospital whose chaplain put out a desperate plea to local churches, and we have decided to give masks to members and non-members alike.
We hung many on the railing on the front steps of our church and put up a simple post on Facebook that read “Free Masks, come and take one.” And that lit a fire. We started getting calls and instant messages from people looking for masks. We would hang 20 and a few hours later, they were gone. People have begun asking us for some directly, so I myself have started delivering them. If I can’t make them, I can at least drop them off.
They are disappearing faster than we can produce them! Although we’ve lost count, by the estimates of the missions team we are approaching 600 masks in 6 weeks! Aultman will welcome more and clearly this is something the community is looking for.
It’s funny. No one is all that impressed with how we have managed to survive online. No one is really calling the building asking for counseling or words of wisdom. No one is really wanting my answers to the big questions of why? Or where is God? No one is really asking for my thoughts on a particular passage in the book of Joel. That is not what people are clamoring for. What are they asking for? “Hey, do you guys have any of those masks left? Could I get some for my kids?”
Maybe Jesus words to us about making sure we don’t mix up the old and new were words designed for this season. Maybe they were specifically for me and for you. Don’t disregard the old for the new, you might need it someday.