Sewing ministry bonds community, generations

10/1/2010

Girls work on their sewing projects at Fitzhugh United Methodist Church.

While a sewing ministry may seem a little unconventional in today’s ready-made culture, it is exactly what Fitzhugh United Methodist Church members wanted to do to reach out.

Through an all-church survey, Fitzhugh UMC found sewing was something many members wanted to learn. In an effort to meet this need, the church decided to create a sewing ministry.

"Since I had some experience teaching sewing with my own children, I knew this was a need I could help meet," said church member Liz Taylor.

Taylor believed the program could teach people to make their own clothes, create gifts, and enjoy developing a skill no longer commonplace in homes.

In its rural location southwest of Ada, Fitzhugh UMC is a small church, and establishing the sewing ministry involved nearly all the church members. Many men in the church provided childcare during classtime, and others recruited class participants.

Participants ranged in age from 6 to 52 years old during the first set of classes, and half of those involved were parents and children from the local Head Start childcare center.

Some of the completed sewing projects were donated to causes. The students made neck wraps for "HUGS for Soldiers," pillowcases for youth shelters and nursing homes, and hotpads for the church kitchen.

At the end of the classes, each participant received a notebook with basic sewing terminology, the patterns used in class, and several other patterns for future use.

To fund the sewing ministry, the church received a Petree Grant last year from the Oklahoma United Methodist Foundation. With the grant, sewing machines, a serger machine, supplies, and fabric were purchased.

"A church our size would not have been able to financially sustain this ministry without the grant," said Taylor.

A new set of classes will begin soon. The classes will include sewing with fleece, making blankets and "chemo caps" for cancer patients.

"Although we are a very small congregation, we can do great things," said Taylor.  "This ministry is a unique and successful way to reach out to others in the community."

Established in 1997, the Petree Committee has awarded more than 200 grants, totaling more than $1 million, to United Methodist agencies and churches across Oklahoma. The grant-making fund was founded by Margaret Petree and awards grants annually to Oklahoma United Methodist ministries that target children, youth, and those who are aging, needy, and marginalized.

Contact Barbara Gayle at the Foundation for more information, 800-259-6863.


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