Getting the (needle)point: Church to dedicate art

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Moorings Presbyterian Church is the recipient of a gift counted not in millions of dollars, but in millions of stitches.

On Sunday, Nov. 22, 2009, the congregation will dedicate its contributed art, which includes 26 needlepoint art pieces, all created and stitched by members of the church.

The inspiration came from longtime needlepoint hobbyist Dee McClay, a member who made the first pieces. She created eight paraments — pulpit banners — depicting Christian liturgical seasons.

“Different people saw them and asked me to make some seat covers for the sanctuary chairs where the ministers and speakers sit, so I said sure,” McClay recalled.

This time, she decided to work in patterns of stained glass from the church’s windows that relate to the stages in the life of Jesus Christ.

But when the delighted congregation asked if she’d be willing to make seat covers for the remodeled chapel — a 90-chair room — McClay admits she gulped. The paraments had been a seven-year project.

“I said, there’s no way I can do 90, but I can do 30 patterns and work with anyone else who is willing to do needlepoint,” she said.

“Anyone else” turned out to be nearly 30 of her fellow members.

“I was amazed. I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “Some of them are brand-new learners and they’re struggling away, but they’re all willing to learn.”

McClay adapted book photos to create her patterns for the chapel chairs, much as she had for the paraments. This time, she chose 30 flowers mentioned in the Bible and created patterns that show the flower and the biblical verse from which it comes. So far, 10 of the seats have been completed for the chapel.

“Some will take a year to make theirs, and some will take a couple of months. But it’s been so much fun. When one finishes a seat, we all have to rush over to look at it.”

“There are a lot of loving hands doing this work,” she said.

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