Hundreds of quilts created at St. Mark Lutheran Church, Davenport, tenderly wrap babies, comfort the sick and provide warmth and a reminder of God’s love to Quad-Citians from all walks of life.
Candy Bates, a St. Mark member, established “Quilters 4 Christ” in 1998 as an outreach “to those in need of a warm hug.” The congregation donates fabrics, threads and yarn to a dedicated group of artistic women who have made and donated hundreds of quilts.
“The group of sewers has changed over the years, but the warm smiles and thankful facial expressions the quilters receive when a quilt is wrapped around a recipient never has changed,” Bates says. “In the beginning we focused on single-sized quilts for at-risk teenagers” who lived in Valley Shelter, a Quad-City facility that later closed.
Quilters 4 Christ member, Duretta Abbott, is a master at creating T-shirt quilts, says Bates, “so we soon established a ‘Christ’s love’ bond with the kids using old T-shirts to make quilts to fit each recipient’s personality. That was a reward for us and the teens, but funding forced the homes to close.”
The group then began creating lap quilts for the former Meadowlawn senior center “Donations of wheelchair and lap quilts are a joy not only to make, but also to give,” Bates says. “Our St. Mark visitors outreach group always can find a quilt in our closet to give a homebound person or a hospitalized member of our congregation.”
When quilt expert Lois Daasch began teaching nine-patch blocks, the group added baby quilts to its repertoire. The quilters always have three or four quilts ready to tie or use as a teaching aid at each meeting. “Using festive, soft flannel and cotton fabrics, we stitch together the quilts in laughter, fellowship and prayer,” Bates says.
All babies baptized at St. Mark are given a quilt. Women who use Pregnancy Resources receive quilts, and so do children who have been placed in foster care in Jackson and surrounding counties. Every quilt is rolled around a beanbag animal because “little hands love to latch on to the adorable little stuffed animal as if it were their very best friend,” Bates said. “We recently gave a local social worker 25 such quilts and they found homes very quickly.”
Quilters 4 Christ meets the second Thursday of every month at St. Mark. Quilters learn a new block pattern, discuss layout, search cupboards for the right fabrics “and the magic begins,” Bates says. “Our 16-year members delight in teaching our many younger members.”
Daasch’s specialties are very small blocks and baby quilts, while other members are experts in “flying geese” boarders, “log cabin” blocks, patchwork tops, table runners, totes, and the organization and distribution of the handiwork (Bates specializes in Civil War blocks and “tree of life” patterns).
“Every quilter brings a unique talent to each work,” says the Rev. Travis Fisher. “I enjoy seeing all the quilts this group puts together and the love they put into their creations.” Each hand-crafted piece is part of a blessing held during worship services. “It’s a ministry that truly brings joy into our community,” Fisher said.