Prayer quilt has been made to commemorating the coming together of the community during the pandemic

A magnificent prayer quilt, commemorating the coming together of the community in Castle Donington during the global pandemic, has been unveiled at St Edward’s Church. 

The four-fold quilt tells the story of a community that have loved, lost and learned, and creatively captures their personal prayers of thankfulness, hope, remembrance, and celebration in His creation.

The Bishop of Leicester, Martyn Snow, joined members of the church and wider community on Pentecost Sunday for the grand reveal, which showcased months of work by everyone from the local Brownie pack and school children, to ecumenical partners, volunteer services, and people who live, work and worship in the town.   

The idea for the quilt came together when, in quiet contemplation, Reverend Andrew Race - Vicar to Castle Donington with Lockington cum Hemington - got to thinking about what they could do as a community to memorialise the year.

He wanted to do it in a way that wasn’t just one of regret and sadness, but that captured something of thankfulness and hope as well. 
“We’d recognised that the biggest impact, pastorally, was that people have not been able to grieve properly and we wanted to enable people to engage and process their feelings, and look forward in a way that gives life,” explains Rev Andrew. “A quilt seemed a creative way to do that.”  

The quilt is made up of pre-cut square patches, in one of four colours - red representing something to be thankful for; white symbolising hope, purple for someone to remember and green something that inspires about creation or the environment.

The 80 individually decorated patches embody the prayers of the community, stitched and held together in an authentic and unique piece of art.
Whether it has been a rainbow to remember grandad, or a button bird flying among God’s creation, Rev Andrew says the patches have been decorated in a way that has “drawn out a whole sense of community reawakening to what community means, and how important that is to them.”

He says: “The response of the community, from people of all ages, has been amazing and the variety of artwork and creativity truly over whelming.”

Everything from embroidery and applique, to fabric paint and pens have been use to craft these big, bright and beautiful blankets. 

The four sections of quilt have been made to a specific size, so they can be easily transported and displayed in a variety of venues around the community, and will eventually go on to be used as alter frontals in the church.

“This way, the prayers of the community can be all around us and in front of us as we worship,” says Rev Andrew. “The church has been holding the community in prayer, and the symbolism of this quilt holds so much for so many. This is their church and that connection is precious.”

When it came to bringing the quilt together, Rev Andrew approached Angie Fox - a certified embroiderer, skilled crafter, and vestments maker with a background in church furnishings - who was excited to be involved with the project. 

God had quite literally prepared Angie for the task, after she found a book about community sewing projects called ‘Threads of Life’ by Clare Hunter, in a charity shop on holiday some months previously, and read it from cover to cover. She gathered a group of like-minded ladies, who have been meeting for the last few weeks in the Methodist Church Hall to sew the patches together and weave their magic across the four quilts.   
Taking control of the design and detailing, Angie and the team have used their skills to intersperse the patches with plain coloured panels, wording and elements such as cathedral window patchwork, symmetrical patterns of intricate stitching echoing the grill on the church floor, and have even transferred images of the church and its redeeming features onto the quilt using special techniques. 

“It has been a privilege to be part of this project and I have watched it grow,” says Angie. “Knowing people have been able to express how they feel through such a difficult time, and seeing that come to life through the quilt, is simply wonderful and a fitting way to mark this period.”  

“God has been all over this,” she explains. “From praying for this personally, to the way He has brought us four ladies together – of different denominations, another a non-church goer – and in a time when we have all faced personal crises. It has been delightful to spend time together, get to know one another and support each other. It’s been an all-round wholly positive experience.” 

A book will be made, documenting every patch and revealing the inspiration behind each individual design and prayer. 
These include 8 year-old Ela’s patch, upon which she sewed sequin flowers, because she loves flowers and they make her feel happy. And 8 year-old Molly, who has drawn her family, because she loves them very much.  

After nearly 16 years of his companionship, Sue’s dog, Toby, died in May 2020. He had been an important part of her life in the 13 years since her husband died, and through him she made many friends in the village. Sue’s patch is in remembrance of Toby. 

The Brownies are thankful for many things, including school, homes, friends and Zoom - as that means they can all still meet.
With ‘Hope Eternal’ in mind, Elizabeth is reminded that we need each other always: family, friends, church family and community. We cannot do things on our own.

And equally, 6 year-old Summer says she has had more time as a family than ever and hopes they will always have time together.
Rev Andrew says: “This quilt is a precious memorial to what has been a very dark time, yet it also resolutely demonstrates hope, vision, resilience and gratitude.

“Please pray that, as our community navigates its way beyond the fear, grief, pain, and isolation of the pandemic, God will by his Spirit refresh, restore, rebuild and re-vision all his people.”

Bishop Martyn added: “It was a joy to celebrate the gift to the church of the Holy Spirit with the people of Castle Donington on Pentecost Sunday, and to dedicate the prayer quilt the community have made.

“These last months have been hard for all of us, and particularly devastating for some, but the quilt is a poignant reminder of the importance of communities coming together, and of the love of God for us even in the most difficult of circumstances.”

First published on: 24th May 2021
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