Columbia quilters honored for donations, continued work

Members of the Quilting Ministry at First Baptist Church in Columbia pose with the gifts they were presented with in May. (Robyn Dexter photo)

Over the years, the quilters of the First Baptist Church in Columbia have put countless hours into thousands of quilts.

The quilt ministry began in early 2003, when a group of only three quilters got together in January to work on quilts.

One of the original members, Betty Courtney, said the group now has about 25 “regulars” who come every Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. to continue the ministry.

In May, the quilt ministry was honored by John Jerome from Operation Homefront for the quilts they have donated to overseas soldiers and to service men and women.

The group was presented with a flag that was flown over Afghanistan and a certificate in recognition of the quilts the ministry has donated over the years.

“We got a standing ovation from the whole congregation and there wasn’t a dry eye in the place,” she said. “We were so blessed to receive this award.”

All the fabric the quilters use is donated, and they fill every wall in the back room of the church basement with shelves of colorful fabric variations.

“We just have material coming out of our ears,” Courtney said.

Each member of the group has a job to do, and the process of making a quilt moves along quite like that of an assembly line.

10-year quilter Betty Courtney accepts a flag flown in Afghanistan from Operation Homefront representative John Jerome. (submitted photo)

“When some of our people aren’t here, it throws off the process,” she said.

The quilts are sent all over the country and all over the world as well.

They are presented to people in all types of situations, whether they are suffering from a natural disaster, fighting overseas or in nursing homes.

In the back room, on a bulletin board by the stacks of fabric and yarn, are charts of where the quilts have been sent over the years.

Courtney listed off several countries and states as she flipped through the charts including Bulgaria, Germany and Peru.

“They’ve just gone all over,” Courtney said. “When we hear of a need, we try to meet it.”

Though Courtney isn’t sure of exactly how many quilts have been sent out in the past 10 years, she knows it is more than 2,000.

Several hundred of those have gone to the troops, and Courtney said she has heard many stories of returning soldiers who still have their quilts.

The next big project for the quilters revolves around the Christmas season and meeting the needs of the community for the holidays.

“We are just so blessed with all the stories we hear because of these quilts,” she said.

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