Upper Room Quilters

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Upper Room Quilters

What is now known as the Upper Room Quilters had its beginnings in 2001 as an outgrowth of what was then a very active organization, called the Prime Timers. This group consisted of many of the senior men and women in the community who got together about once each month for food, fellowship, and various types of entertainment. Some members of the group also got together to start learning to paint, and out of these meetings the idea of quilting came up. Karen Oerly had a quilt top that she wanted to have backed and quilted. Dorothy (Dot) Sherfey had a quilting frame that she brought, and she and others helped finish the quilt for Karen.

This quilting effort sparked a very real interest among some of them to start making and finishing quilts. One of the first quilts they completed was bought by Merrill Emit Barry, and the quilters realized they had found a good source of relaxation and fun, with the additional bonus of occasionally getting some money for their work.

Several men of the church donated some time and money to help fix the room for quilting by replacing the existing lights with some that were much better suited to the very close needlework quilting requires. Not much later, as the quilting group continued to grow, they fixed up an adjoining room to use as well. The pastor at that time was Jonathan Jonas, and he procured a grant for the materials necessary for the men to build additional quilting frames. They then got another grant to start some sewing and cooking classes. By now the quilting endeavor had become a great chance for socialization and relaxation, as well as bringing in some occasional money to purchase additional equipment, such as sewing machines, as well as funding the purchase of yards and yards of quilting fabric.

The quilting group had grown to several ladies and an occasional man occupying two rooms of the upper floor of the Sulphur Springs United Methodist church’s Community Ministry Center. They realized that they needed a name for the group, so in keeping with some of the history of the Methodist church, as well as their location, they became known as the Upper Room Quilters.

During a visit to the hospital, some of the ladies noticed that the hospital had some pictures of some locally made quilts. Upon further inquiry they were told that the hospital could use small quilts for children who were admitted for various sicknesses and injuries. Consequently the quilters started making quilts for the Niswonger Children’s hospital as part of a loving outreach to the community. Later the hospital mentioned the need of small stuffed animals to help ease the children’s anxieties. So the ladies then started making little bears and stuffing them for the nurses to give to the children. They also made some little frogs, stuffed with a material that could be heated, that were placed in incubators for the premature babies in the neonatal ICU. This service and mission outreach has grown to the level of frequently over a hundred children’s quilts and an equal number of small stuffed animals are made each year for the Niswonger Children’s Hospital.

The Upper Room Quilters are becoming widely known for their mission work, the fine quality of their work, and their willingness to donate quality items they have made to aid in fundraising projects carried out by their church.