By Sherri Coner
Eight pairs of skilled hands, lots of laughter and a little bit of bickering brought a beautiful labor of love to the vestibule of Mount Olive Lutheran Church.
This colorful handmade wall hanging of the Lord’s Supper, which is 188 inches wide and 63- and-a-half inches long was created by the Mount Olive Quilt Ministry.
“It’s to the glory of God,” said Deanna Richason of Whiteland, a longtime member of the ministry.
While browsing in a Shipshewana quilt store several years ago with Linda Humbles, a former quilt ministry member who recently moved from Greenwood to South Carolina, Richason said they purchased a cross-stitch pattern of the Lord’s Supper.
In late 2020, Humbles decided to think bigger than a cross stitch … much bigger.
She presented the idea of creating a quilt panel for the church, based on the cross-stitch pattern. Her fellow quilters eagerly embraced the idea.
But of course, anything worth doing won’t usually be one bit easy.
First, the cross-stitch pattern was enlarged.
Second, a die cutter was used to cut bunches and bunches of donated fabric into 1-inch squares.
“Forty-seven thousand, seven hundred and fifty-two four little squares,” Richason said with a smile.
Fellow quilter, Melissa Bade of Mooresville, organized each of those squares by color and labeled containers to store them.
“We had 52 different colors,” said Bade.
Surrounded by lots of fabric, sewing machines, a couple of irons and the excitement required to tackle such a huge project, the eight quilt ministry members officially got their mission started in the sewing room at church on their regularly scheduled Tuesday evening.
That was in January 2020.
“By March, COVID hit,” said Roseanne Gary of Greenwood.
“We didn’t reconvene until June,” Bade said.
Wearing protective masks and a lot of determination, the women returned to the sewing room.
“There were four of us that put the fabric on the interfacing,” Richason said. “And Phyllis did all the ironing.”
“I kept the bobbins full,” Gary said with a laugh.
When eight opinions are gathered in a relatively small space, dealing with the headaches of counting 17 1-inch square grids across, 42 1-inch square grids down and 714 squares on one grid at a time for five hours every Tuesday, of course some fussing is bound to erupt.
“They argued all the time,” said a smiling Phyllis Shutters of Greenwood.
“There was a lot of process to it,” Gary said.
“We even had to rip out one whole section,” Bade said. “It was all cattywampus.”
Because Jane Loudermilk of Greenwood preferred to sew while standing, she worked on a countertop in the church kitchen.
“She did many, many hours of sewing,” Richason said of Loudermilk.
Church member, Fred Chadwell of Bargersville, stained the wooden frame, which measured 6 feet wide and more than 16 feet in length.
In January 2023, the two-year mission by such a dedicated team of quilters was officially completed and hung near the ceiling.
Reflecting on the sometimes-stressful experience, “We learned what good friends we are,” Shutter said.
“Even though we yelled at each other,” Richason said with a laugh.