Needpoint Ministry

If you look around our wonderful sanctuary carefully, after spying the four mice running up furniture carved by Robert Thompson, the Mouseman of Kilburn, you will see glorious needlepoint everywhere. These labors of love are the work of our Needlepoint Guild, a group formed in 1976 and chaired for years by the late, great Jo Miesch. Jo designed the canvases which were then stitched by 19 members and later joined by another 21. Their accomplishment was mighty:  51 pieces!  Using Jo’s designs which she then painted on the canvases plus English woolen yarns and untold hours of stitching, these ladies left heartfelt contributions to the beauty of our sanctuary.

In the last 2 years, the Needlepoint Guild is enjoying a renaissance due to a true tragedy.  The canvas of the altar kneelers disintegrated, leaving hundreds of thousands of careful stitches held together by literally nothing. One athletic knee at the communion rail could easily have gone right through Pris Lewis’s majestic center kneeler or any of the others. That precious work is now resting on miniature benches, built expressly by master craftsman Quint Creighton and made possible by the generous G R Fasken.  The current and exciting needlepoint work is led by Virginia Pitts and Judy Cobb, both contributors to the original effort. Judy’s baptismal shell hangs under the Transfiguration window on the east wall of the church.  Virginia stitched a few of the nave kneelers and, for those lucky to sing soprano in the choir, created a kneeler with the musical staff and notes of the Kyrie. 

In 2020, Lorrie Norton Rhodes shared the name of Sheila Oscherf, a Fort Worth-based needlepoint designer who works for churches and cathedrals across the United States.  Virginia and Judy worked with Sheila on the design of the new kneelers with the center kneeler’s medallion being the Jerusalem cross that is carved into the front our altar, IC XC NI KA, Greek meaning ‘Jesus Christ Conquers.’ They explain that the canvas comes painted with Sheila’s designs and from that “they paint with yarn.” The colors are from the stained glass triptych above the altar. Currently hard at work are Virginia Pitts, Judy Cobb, Judy Gibbons, Beryl Bryant (a lady not a parishioner but a terrific stitcher), Callie Kent, and Jack Thomson. 

Sadly, our dear recently-departed Kay Burkhart leaves her unfinished kneeler, one of her many contributions to our church. If you would like to learn the art of needlepoint, this is your chance both to learn and leave your legacy in the pews of Holy Cross.  If you would like to donate monies for this project—the design, the yarns, the blocking and finishing of the kneelers—please don’t hesitate.  There is a fun group of stitchers eager to welcome you into their circle.  There is a Needlepoint Fund to contribute to—just send a check in honor of a grandbaby, a mother, a dad, or a friend to the church office.