Quilt of Love

April 09, 1998|By KATE COLEMAN

Members of Lutheran Social Services Auxiliary in Chambersburg, Pa., really didn't know what they were getting into when they planned a fund-raiser in July 1996.

Someone had told then Vice President Gladys Mull that raffling a quilt had been a good money-maker for other groups, and she and her friend, sister-in-law and fellow auxiliary member, Esther Gift, had just taken a quilting class at their church, Solomon's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chambersburg.

Mull figured that making a quilt was a project that could involve all 25 churches that support the Chambersburg Center of Lutheran Social Services, the nonprofit social ministry organization.

She sent out a note and a patch of material to an auxiliary member at each of the churches.

She asked that the squares depicting each church be completed and returned by Sept. 15.

"We didn't even know what we wanted," Mull said. "I never knew what it would become."


The deadline came and went. The squares trickled in.

It took more than a year for the quilt to be finished, but it was worth the wait.

All the squares are different.

Some are simple; others are elaborate and detailed.

The hand-painted square in the center of the quilt appropriately represents the auxiliary.

Four corner patches represent the Lutheran church or services of Lutheran Social Services.

Some are embroidered, one is cross-stitched, others are hand-painted.

Two - St. John's Lutheran Church in Mercersburg, Pa., and St. John's Lutheran Church on Greenvillage Road in Chambersburg - are made with pieces of an old choir gown from Solomon's Evangelical Lutheran Church.

"When the patches started coming in, and we saw the quality, dedication and love represented by each of the squares, we realized we had a wonderful opportunity for witness," Mull said.

Mull, who is now auxiliary president, and Gift, the quilt project coordinator, knew the quilt could not be raffled.

It wouldn't mean anything to one particular person who might win it in a raffle, said Gift, who pieced the squares together and hand quilted the king-size keepsake on her lap. But the quilt means "everything" to the auxiliary, the Chambersburg Center and each of the churches involved, Mull said.

The auxiliary provides support - financial and otherwise - to Lutheran Social Services which offers residential living at Luther Ridge Retirement Community.

Personal care at the Inn at Luther Ridge provides in-house health care at a level between independent living and skilled nursing, according to Ellie Ford, executive director of Luther Ridge.

Several congregation/community programs also are coordinated through the Chambersburg Center. These include Touch-a-Life, a neighbor-helping-neighbor program; Stephen Ministers, a laity counseling program, and Lutheran Home Care Services, offering home and hospice care.

The auxiliary provides funding for things Luther Ridge can't afford, Ford said. A bus to transport the residents and automatic door openers are examples. The auxiliary also supports the endowment that enables residents who have run out of funds to remain at Luther Ridge.

But it's not just the things the auxiliary buys, it's really about helping people, Ford said. She called the quilt a testimony to the partnership that Lutheran Social Services has with the 25 churches of the conference.

The people in the auxiliary are the church's front line, according to Mark Hoffman, senior communications officer for Lutheran Social Services of South Central Pennsylvania in York, Pa.

"They are the people living the Word every day," Hoffman said.

Catch a glimpse of the quilt

For about two years, the quilt will be on tour, spending a month in each of the 25 churches that are part of its fabric.

In June, the "Quilt of Love," as it has been called, will be displayed in Gettysburg, Pa., at the annual assembly of the Lower Susquehanna Synod of Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Although the precise spot hasn't been determined, the quilt will have a permanent home at Luther Ridge, the focus of the auxiliary's good works. If necessary, a wall will be built for it, Ford said with a chuckle.

What about the funds the raffle of the quilt was supposed to raise?

"We had a spaghetti supper. We did OK," Mull said with a laugh.

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