Reflections from the Artist
I have always found quilting to be a metaphor for living in community. In this specific project, this quilt reflects what I imagine Jesus had hoped for his church. Not just the Church of the Brethren—but the church everywhere, from cathedral tall, to a small group sequestered in worship, hidden from persecuting authority. This project is no exception to that notion. At every step of the way, I found myself wondering how grand the church of Jesus Christ could be if we would begin to treat each other as pieces in a quilt.
This is how “Connecting 300” unfolded for me. The call came: would I create a quilt piece for the 300th anniversary of the Church of the Brethren? As “Quilt Lady” for Annual Conference and AACB the past 20 years, I could not refuse the call. I then extended the call to all the congregations of the denomination: send me a piece of fabric to be used in the quilt. This way all have an opportunity to be part of the whole. I suggested guidelines: 100% good cotton fabric. When the fabric began to arrive, I changed my idea of what it means to be part of the whole, especially if you didn’t follow the specific directions. My goal was to use every fabric that was sent in. And I did.
As I worked with the fabrics, I grumbled. Loosely woven fabrics raveled. Some thin fabrics shrank with the heat of the iron. I complained. Then I had an epiphany. This was to be a celebration piece. My grumbling and complaining was not very celebratory. I had to adjust my attitude, and shift how I perceived this project. And I did. Spray starch helped stabilize soft loose fabrics. If I thought a fabric needed support, I made sure that the fabric I paired it with would help to hold it in place. I reduced the heat of my iron I tried to pay attention to each fabric as I worked with it. Most of all, I stopped complaining and did all I could do to lovingly connect all 223 fabrics.
As you look at the piece, think about the church. Each block is connected, sometimes by color, sometimes by similar patterns or by need of support. If a block seems out of place, think about the people in your community that might feel out of place in your church. I believe we are all connected as pieces in quilt. The church needs to be the model for a world unraveling.
“Water” is quilted into the first section. The “Wonder” in the form of Spirit’s flame is quilted into the third section. “The Word” is quilted into the center section. Scriptures stitched in the fabric are from John 1:1 Psalm 51:10 Isaiah 40:31 Micah 6:8 John 3:16-17 Isaiah 9:6-7 Matthew 22:37 & 39 Matthew 5:43-44 Matthew 5:13, 14 Matthew 28:19 Hebrews 13:2 and John 14:27
3 sections (3 centuries) 120 inches wide 112 inches long 223 different fabrics
4,779 two inch squares set on point with 150 setting triangles
More hours of work than I can begin to count. Created in an attitude of reflection and prayer.
And all is well, Rachel W. N. Brown
Here are the pictures of the quilt that Rachel described in her reflections. She was commisioned to create in honor of the 300th Anniversary of the Church of the Brethren.