Saturday, July 23, 2005

100th Baptism Quilt

The 100th Baptism Quilt Presented
by The Ministers of the Cloth

This Sunday marks a big milestone for The Ministers of the Cloth, the quilting group at our church. Since 1996 the group has made a presented a crib-size baptism quilt to each infant or toddler baptised at the church. Our 100th quilt has been completed and will be presented tomorrow at the baptism of a very special baby--Cameron.

Cameron and his older sister Jessica are both being baptised tomorrow, so we will be presenting the 99th and 100th quilts to this family. The Ministers of the Cloth decided that Cameron's would be the 100th quilt in celebration of his miraculous recovery from a heart condition that required surgery to correct when he was only a couple of months old. Now his surgeons believe he will have a completely normal life and no lingering concerns from this condition.

For those of you who may be curious about the quilt, the appliques are all Christian symbols and then we embroider the baby's name, the date of baptism and the name of our church on one square. We have more than twenty applique symbols, so the quilts can be very different. We try to include symbols appropriate to the liturgical season of the baptism whenever possible. Otherwise we choose what looks good with the background fabric.

Tomorrow will be a special day for all of us as we celebrate these baptisms and remember all the ones that have gone before. I am honored to have been asked to be the elder for the ceremony. After the baptism the pastor always walks the child or children around the congregation while they sing "The Borning Cry." I must remember to take a handkerchief with me because it's hard not to get teary-eyed over lyrics like :

I was there to hear your borning cry
I'll be there when you are old.
I rejoiced the day you were baptised
To see your life unfold.


the reverend mommy said...

That is so pretty! and to present one to each baptized baby is so very special.

We had been doing (that would be I have been...) a baptismal towels made of handmade Irish linen with an embroidered shell and three drops of water.

How long does it take to make a quilt?

Quotidian Grace said...

It's hard to say how long it takes to make a quilt because we run an assembly-line type operation for them. Someone traces and irons on the appliques, someone else hand-embroiders around them, another cuts the fabrics, another irons, another sews, etc. I estimate that it probably takes about 5 hours for each quilt.

reverendmother said...

Love that song.

I accepted my current call three weeks before C was born. When she was born I was still not known by most of the congregation, but the wife of the finance chair knew that I was coming and was having a girl, and she asked the APNC if she could make a quilt for the baby. It didn't coincide with her baptism per se, but reading your post, it occurs to me that our Reformed theology of baptism was present in every stitch--before the congregation even knew who C was, they already cared for her.

Lovely ministry you have there.

Quotidian Grace said...

What a lovely story about your daughter! I love your observation about the connection with Reformed theology and will share it with our quilting group.

Kathryn said...

Oh how special...beautiful thought and beautiful outworking of it. :-)
I guess that's one major advantage of a gathered congregation,- that most often you will be baptising babes whose families you know. Here, though the clergy and visiting team may have a chance to build up a relationship with the family, too often it's a very short term thing...and we've done at least 28 baptisms this year already, so it's very hard to enthuse the congregation about each one.

jo(e) said...

I love the idea of a community making a quilt for a baby. What a wonderful ministry.

Last time I was at the monastery I go to, some of the other guests were knitting prayer scarfs. When I asked what that meant, they said that they prayed for the person the scarf was going to while they were knitting, even if it was a person they had never met.

Songbird said...

jo(e), we knit the Prayer Shawls at our church, too. It has become a significant and beautiful ministry in the past 18 months or so. We do give them to families with new babies, rather than waiting for baptism, since that is a moveable feast for Congregational folk.

Next week a box of 12 shawls will begin its journey from Maine to South Africa, to be given to the HIV positive women whose Beadwork we have been selling to raise funds for their food and medicine.

Quotidian Grace said...

The prayer scarf/shawl ministry sounds very similar to our quilt ministry. Down here in south Texas though we have very few knitters (despite the current popularity of knitting) because it's too hot to knit and to hot to use anything knitted most of the year. Our quilts use the thinnest batting possible because of this.

Jez said...

So this is how to make a Quotidian Quilt! 'Tis very fine, I wonder if you can make a neat little text by interpreting one image to the next, like a comic book? I know, it sounds a little crude, but a child's mind does wander, does it not?