Creating Ministry Ties That Bind

In Idaho, quilts are a passion project. At least they are for Rich Hopkins, a member of Friendship Celebration Lutheran Church in Meridian who leads a ministry called Threads in Faith. Threads in Faith seeks to match people who need extra support – such as cancer patients, widows, sick children, someone suffering a recent loss – with a special quilt made and prayed over by a local congregation. And while it started there, Hopkins hopes to see it spread all across the NOW District and beyond.

The mission of Threads in Faith is simple: “Ignite our community with prayers for the lost, fearful and stressed during challenging times with God’s love.”

The concept of Threads in Faith was founded 20 years ago by Hopkins’ late wife Pat and her friend Arlene Northrup at Shepherd of Hills Lutheran Church in Anza, California. Together they created a simple process to connect those in need of prayers with their church. Pat passed away in September 2021, but Hopkins is determined to continue the ministry in her honor.

The way Threads in Faith works is simple: A congregation or community member makes a request for a quilt on behalf of an individual in need of support. The quilters group in that congregation makes a quilt for the individual. The quilt is then dedicated during a church service, where congregation members assist with the final tying of the quilt and offer prayers for the recipient (oftentimes the recipient is at the service; if not, delivery is arranged). A designated leader (this could be LWML, elder, care team, or someone from the evangelism team) will periodically follow up with the recipient and keep him or her connected to the congregation. A big point of Threads in Faith is that connection aspect. This ministry is a way to – quite literally – create ties to a congregation.

“Overall, the most prevalent misconception about [Threads in Faith] is it is to replace, instead of support, the existing quilting missions or would cause additional effort for the pastor. The program is composed to be simple in adoption and ease of execution so anyone considering joining the mission can easily do so,” Hopkins said. “Any congregation member, pastor, or community supporter can embrace and arrange for a recipient to receive a quilt or join in the mission. Threads in Faith’s mission is intended to add to the other meaningful quilt programs that Lutheran churches already have in place.”

All materials for the program are available online: Hopkins said there are some aspects that make the Threads in Faith program unique, including when the pastor and congregation pray together over the quilt while tying the knots. The follow-up afterward is also a very critical piece.

“Maybe this quilt is the seed for a family member to seek God during their grief,” he said. “This happened this year and resulted in a new attendee to our congregation and for a lady that was chastised as a Mormon returned to a Christian church with her family.”

To date, Friendship Celebration has provided 13 quilts for a variety of reasons: people going through different kinds of cancer treatment, widow, coma, congestive heart failure, broken hip, daughter that had fallen away from God, grieving loss, and back surgery. Hopkins said there are five additional congregations in the community that have embraced Threads in Faith, and he estimates the total number of quilts awarded to be around 40. Each quilt, and each presentation, is meaningful.

“I first noticed the pastor and the congregation came to recognize the impact of Threads in Faith during the presentation of a quilt to our church secretary suffering from a brain tumor. The impact of a quilt mission is immeasurable by seeing joy through her worry, her family joining in the quilt delivery at church, our continued prayers and follow up with her,” he said. “Furthermore, the lasting impression and God’s influence in everyone’s life touched by the quilt dedication is beyond estimate. Each consequent quilt dedication seems to have brought the church family into a further acknowledgement of the influence of Threads in Faith.”

Hopkins has high hopes for this ministry, and he has been working hard to get the word out about it. He said last year there was participation from people in Missouri, Oklahoma, Ohio, Washington, California, Arkansas, Virginia, Wyoming, Tennessee, and Oregon.

“My goal for 2023 is to transform the mission of a few to a mission of many,” he said.

To find out more about Threads in Faith, check out:

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