Every Wednesday, the Piece Makers of St. Andrew By-the-Sea United Methodist Church on Hilton Head Island meet to create prayer quilts for those in need of support.
The quilts look like any other at first, but then strings of yarn are sewn into the patches. As people pray over the quilts, they tie knots, each one representing their prayer for the recipient.
Shirley Stegeman and Sally Philip have been part of the Piece Makers since it began 10 years ago at the request of the church's minister.
"He told me, 'You don't know how powerful that ministry is,'" Philip said.
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People can request quilts for members and nonmembers of the church; the majority go to those battling illnesses.
"The saddest thing is when we get (requests) for children," Stegeman said.
The group makes about 100 quilts a year, each taking 10 to 12 hours to complete. The quilts are hung over the kneeling benches in the Christ Chapel, a small chapel in the church where the Healing and Wholeness services are held Wednesdays.
The quilts are prayed over during that service, and then again on Sunday morning. On top of the quilt is a card saying who the quilt is for, what prayers are needed and who requested it.
"You know you're getting prayers from other people than just your family," Philip said. "And we all believe in prayer."
The group meets in a small brightly lit room at the church. The cabinets are full of cloth patterned with polka dots, paisley, flowers, angels and Bible verses. Philip has just finished a simple blue and white quilt. Looking through a quilting magazine, she sees one she likes and is excited to start making it.
"I'm going to be more inventive with my next quilt," she said.
Downstairs, Philip pulls a stack of thank you cards from the group's church mailbox. They read:
"Your prayers, joined with many others, will provide the comfort and healing powers that come from our Lord."
"What a beautiful quilt -- and how very much it means to me."
"I am not anticipating a few fun months, and the prayers that they represent will be a great comfort."