Rich Hopkins, 81, took over his late wife’s quilt ministry aspirations following her death from Covid-19 last year. Here, Hopkins is shown among some of the items that go into creating quilts for Threads in Faith. (Photo provided by Cassandra Carper)
By Gaye Bunderson
A non-profit based in Nampa is using quilts for a prayer ministry called Threads in Faith. Now, the warmth of devout petitions to God can be wrapped in a beautiful comforter. It’s the perfect combination.
“The quilts are thread together with love and prayer for specific people; we frequently know the person, and we want to know that the person wants the quilt,” said Cassandra Carper.
Carper and her father Rich Hopkins oversee the Threads in Faith Prayer Quilt Ministry. But it actually all began with Carper’s mother and Rich’s wife.
Pat Hopkins was a prolific quilter, and she and her friend Arlene had an idea to expand their quilting projects to be more “community inclusive,” according to the story behind Threads in Faith written by Rich. In it, he says, “My wife wanted to make quilts for the needy without restrictions to content or design. The quilts could be specifically made to fit the situation for each person. They could be designed and pieced together by the entire quilt team or just one person dedicating her art to the recipient. The design could contain symbols and religious patterns and even return the lost to the flock.”
Pat Hopkins died from Covid-19 in September of 2021 and did not see her plan come to completion. But that was not to be the end of the quilting project.
“I was awake at 3 a.m. one morning, and the Holy Spirit said to me, ‘You need to carry on this ministry’, and I’ve been doing it since February of this year,” Rich said.
It is the proverbial labor of love, carried out in honor of his wife of 58 years and done in service to God and others. Rich has traveled at length and spoken to hundreds of churches about the quilt project. He wants it all to be non-denominational, though he himself attends Friendship Celebration Lutheran Church in the local area. He traveled for a four-state Lutheran conference and stopped in eight cities in Oregon, visiting churches and telling them about the quilts. His own church chapter has completed eight quilts, and a Lutheran church in Mountain Home has dedicated one quilt, one is ready to be dedicated, and five more are almost ready.
Rich talked about how he’s seen quilt projects before in churches, including one project where 100 quilts were spread out on chairs to be given to Orphan Grain Train (www.ogt.org). He noted that the Threads in Faith project is different in that it creates specific quilts for specific people with specific needs. “TIF has enhanced some of the ministry programs of the church,” he said.
The dedication of the quilt is pivotal to the project, and it takes place in church with the congregation. The quilts are dedicated during a church service and final tying is done by church members and is accompanied by prayer as threads are tied.
A quote from a TIF brochure better explains the idea. “Each quilt is prayerfully made. A thick thread is positioned through the quilt layers, leaving ends free to be tied in a square knot. As each person in the congregation ties the knot, a prayer is offered on behalf [of the intended quilt recipient] for God’s will and intercession.”
Prayer requests are for anyone needing support, such as a cancer patient, widow, sick child, someone grieving a loss or confronting financial concerns, or other difficulties. A request for prayer is turned into a designated church representative; a quilt is made, often in a workshop attended by anyone who has quilting skills or wishes to learn them; the quilt is dedicated in church and prayers are lifted to God. Then, a sponsor arranges for a quilt delivery, or for the recipient to attend the church service. Later, the sponsor or another designated person arranges for a follow-up with the recipient to check on his or her welfare, with privacy always being respected. Threads in Faith also wants to know that the recipient has agreed to accept the quilt and the public prayer of the church.
Though frequently quilt recipients are members of the church congregation, Rich stresses that anyone in a crisis is eligible to receive a quilt and to be prayed for. “We do not judge the worthiness of the request,” he said. “We trust God to make us aware of those needing the gift of prayer and a quilt, and for His Holy Spirit to work in their lives.”
All of this requires the cooperation of a church leader, such as a pastor, and Rich would love for all pastors to mention the quilt project in their bulletins and newsletters.
He wrote in his own Threads in Faith story: “The program is simple and lined out in a brochure you can share with your church. Threads in Faith will not increase the pastor’s workload – it will be an added benefit.”
Two added touches go into each quilt: a Threads in Faith logo and a care label. The logo is decorated with such things as three roses representing the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and a lady bug in honor of Pat Hopkin’s dream to make quilts for the community. It also includes a reference to Luke 15:4 and the lost sheep the Shepherd went in search of. Sheep were also an important part of Rich and Pat’s lives for many years, and Rich’s unique email is [email protected]. The couple once owned Bo Peep’s Black Sheep Farm in Simi Valley, Calif. – an interesting story in its own right.
The care label reads: “Each quilt was specifically made for you and prayed over by our congregation. May God’s peace and blessings blanket you and your loved ones.”
Rich and Cassandra – and the brochure they created for Threads in Faith – like to point out that, “It’s the prayers not the squares.” In other words, the brochure reads, “There’s no magic fairy dust in the quilt. It is a symbol of the love and faith of this congregation. The healing comes from God.”
Rich said he occasionally gets feedback from someone who received a quilt. He stated, both humbly and proudly, that one woman wrote regarding her special gift: “It was the warmest quilt I’ve ever had.”
Neither Rich nor his daughter seek any financial gain from the program, and both want it to ultimately be self-sustaining. They currently use their own funds to keep it going, and Cassandra said, “We walk in faith.”
Rich is retired at age 81 and Cassandra is a pharmacist. One fun fact about the two of them is that they are in a motorcycle group, and Rich rides a Harley. The cycle group also serves as a fundraiser for first responders. Another passion of Rich’s is making stained glass windows.
Surely, Pat Hopkins would be very pleased with them both for carrying on her idea, and for covering those in need with prayers and a handmade quilt.