The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has a motto for service: “God’s work. Our hands.” St. Paul Lutheran Church in Missoula has a group that is unique in my experience: a men’s quilting group that lives out this motto.
Three years ago the men of the church were challenged during an annual meeting to make a quilt. Several men took up the challenge. The women’s quilting group taught them how to prepare a quilt and tie it and the men were off. More than 70 quilts later, six to eight men meet twice a month (taking the summer off) and make one or two quilts in a session.
One of the members of the group sews quilt tops from donated squares and they also use quilt tops that are donated to them from various sources. When they meet, they stretch the tops and tie them with yarn (which two of the men cut and insert into a needle) to match the colors in the quilt. A member takes them home and binds them.
When asked why they quilt, the men admit that they take a ribbing from men in other churches. But they enjoy the fellowship, the treats provided by the wives and, especially, the sense of contributing to St. Paul’s fundraising, which supports the church’s mission to reach out to the Lutheran community and to our local community.
The group’s quilts adorn more than 50 beds in the cabins at Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp on Flathead Lake. They provide quilts for auctions held to support the Freedom in Christ Prison Ministry at the Montana State Prison, Emmaus Campus Ministry on the University of Montana campus, the Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation and Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp. Each year the group donates a quilt to the silent auction at the St. Paul Women in Ministry bazaar, the proceeds of which support many local nonprofit ministries in Missoula.
The men see their quilting as a service for God. God’s work, their hands in action.