Local quilter presents St. Thomas a quilt celebrating its mission and heritage

Published 12:55 pm Friday, September 18, 2020

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Local designer, artist, and quilter Mary Harvey recently presented St. Thomas Episcopal Church with a beautiful quilt celebrating the historic church and its mission, evangelism, and renewal in recent years.
The hand-made quilt is a depiction of St. Thomas’ historic structure, which was built in 1861 as the Elizabethton Southern Methodist Church.
“It depicts God’s love for all as well as hope, grace and beauty,” said Father Timothy Holder, Parish Priest.
Harvey is a member of St. Thomas Church and the parish’s quilt guild.
The quilt is named “We Learn as We Go!,” “!Aprendemos Sobra la Marcha!” by Ms. Harvey, who shared about the prayer and efforts involved in the intricate and beautiful piece of artwork. “I worked a little bit at a time placing fabric on the planned foundation and then letting it sit. I could look at it, contemplate it, and let it speak to me. I wanted to honor all of the parishioners who make St. Thomas a church,” she said.
She noted that the front cross, a large and hand-made, realistic cross made by a parishioner, is adorned in white representing the Christian’s resurrection faith. The vegetable garden is planted in the spring by parishioners to feed the hungry. Neighbors from all around are welcome to its bounty.
“Waffles,” the parish donkey (at Palm Sunday and celebrations), represents the animal family in beautiful Appalachia. Colorful flowers welcome at front doors. “It is a great barn quilt designed to cheer the community during the pandemic and shutdown we are in. A rainbow blesses it all, promising God’s love for everybody and all creation, including St. Thomas’ Latinx families and friends,” said Harvey.
A fascinating story is represented by the “blackbird singing” from the tree just above the 159-year-old church in Elizabethton’s “Old Town.” African American slaves made the brick and built the church from 1861-63. Wondering how this important history might be represented in the quilt, Harvey was inspired by Paul McCartney’s song, “Blackbird,” from the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s remembering those persons lynched and hung from trees.
“The blackbird, a prophetic symbol, sings Spirit and hope then and today,” according to the Rev. Holder. “God bless the hands and heart of Mary Harvey, who brings the Gospel message alive traditionally and nobly in quilting, as have generations of our forbearers in Appalachia and across cultures internationally,” said Holder, who noted there is much to  admire, celebrate, and be touched by the quilt.
“Mary honors the spirit of St. Thomas. Art speaks to our hearts,” said Lorrie Lundquist, Convenor of the Quilt Guild of St. Thomas.
“When I see this amazing quilt, I feel like I am home,” said Carol Brodeur, Senior Warden at St. Thomas.
St. Thomas celebrates Morning Prayer Sundays at 11 a.m. on Zoom with Holy Eucharist at 1 p.m. on the first Sunday in the Garden with automobiles welcome along Second Street in front of the church. Christian traditional and Liturgical Bluegrass music bless the setting at each service.

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