MariLynn Bergmark started a quilting group in her new congregation about a year ago in March. She showed up at a National Quilting Day 2019 event sponsored by Women of the ELCA March 16. And she brought a couple of other women from Christ Lutheran Church, Clarendon Hills, Ill., with her.
“My husband was a pastor for 30 years [in another Lutheran congregation]. And that’s where I got my Lutheran World Relief experience,” said MariLynn, who’s been quilting about 40 years. Women in ELCA congregations send many of their quilts to Lutheran World Relief for distribution around the world.
MariLynn and about 20 others–four under age 12–attended the event at the Lutheran Center in Chicago. Women of the ELCA sponsored the event to celebrate National Quilting Day 2019.
“We have taken over the Augsburg Room (at the Lutheran Center) and turned it into a quilting cottage for the day,” said Linda Post Bushkofsky, executive director of Women of the ELCA.
Sharing the joy at coffee hour
A few of the women attending had no quilting experience, but they wanted to learn more and take the idea of a quilting group back to their churches.
Linda Miranda, president of the Metro Chicago Synodical Women’s Organization and a member of Luther Memorial in Chicago, attended the event with a friend from her church.
“We both like to sew, but we don’t do quilts at church. We do prayer blankets. I think we’d like to start [a quilting group]. We heard about a group that makes quilts and takes them to coffee hour so everybody can take part [in tying them].”
Linda’s friend, Diane Schulte, attended because “I like to quilt, and I’d like to start a group at church.”
Deborah Banks-Williams, a former Women of the ELCA executive board member, brought three of her grandchildren—Iyana (11), Brooklyn (11) and Starr (9¾).
“I came today because I want to give my grandkids the experience of quilting,” Deborah said. “I am not a quilter, and I don’t know what I’m doing (she was ironing), but I came to volunteer.”
Diana Schultz, of Mount Hope Lutheran Church, West Allis, Wis., brought her 11-year-old daughter Kaylee to the quilting event. She hopes to get Kaylee interested in quilting. Later that day, they planned to head out and see some Chicago sights.
Lidi Portschy, of Christ Lutheran, attended the event with MariLynn Bergmark. “I came to learn about quilting because I know nothing. I’m not a quilter.” But she wants to learn. And she’s in the quilting group MariLynn started a year ago. The group has “sent quite a few quilts” to Lutheran World Relief, she said.
Mentors always welcome
Lynn Istwan of St. Mark’s Lutheran in Mt. Prospect, Ill., leads her quilting group of three at church, “but not by choice.”
“My best friend convinced me to come into the group, and then she told me I would be in charge. I’m the primary sewer, and the other girls come and knot,” Lynn said. “I’m always looking for knotters.”
Following Lynn around to learn more about quilting was Desiree Wynn-Cole, a former executive board member.
“I wanted to learn (to quilt),” she said. “I have no experience in quilting at all. I wanted to see what it was all about so I could take it back to my women and we could start a quilting group in my church.”
BethAnn Lynch, coordinator for worship and liturgical resources for the ELCA, said she attended because she rarely gets to quilt at home. “I’m a quilter, and I hardly ever get to quilt. And I love Women of the ELCA, so I have to support them.”
Participants of Women of the ELCA quilt because they love to serve and they love God, said Linda Post Bushkofsky.
“[Quilting] is one kind of work Women of the ELCA does: Caring for others, giving of ourselves, using our creative talents that are God-given and gathering to help other folks.
“So, let’s all keep doing this, so people around the globe are aware that Lutheran women in the United States love them, love our God, and serve them because of our love for God.”
Terri Lackey is director for communication for Women of the ELCA. Photos by Elizabeth McBride. You can see more photos from the National Quilting Day 2019 here.