Sacred Ally Quilts showcase anti-racist movement across Ohio

Something as simple as a quilt can be an extremely powerful visual. Over the last few weeks, scores of people across the state of Ohio were moved to address racism — touched by what they’ve seen, heard and experienced through the United Church of Christ Sacred Ally Quilt Project.

Dr. Harriet Ward created three of the quilts in the Sacred Ally Quilt project. She came from New Hampshire to Mt. Zion Congregational Church in Cleveland, Ohio, to discuss her role in the anti-racist ministry.

Created by women in nine UCC congregations in New Hampshire in the days following the murder of George Floyd, Sacred Ally Quilts document the painful experience of his death at the hands of police in Minneapolis in May of 2020.

The Rev. Mark Koyama, pastor of the United Church of Jaffrey, N.H.

Ten quilts — which capture Floyd’s last words — traveled up through Ohio with stops in five churches, wrapping up with an exhibit at the denomination’s national offices March 3, to “prove that racism is not the only reality.” The display offers a visible symbol, a graphic reminder, of the need for racial justice, said the Rev. Mark Koyama, pastor of the United Church of Jaffrey, N.H., which initiated the ministry.

“Immortalizing these tragic words centers this expression of allyship on the words of a Black man,” he said.

Words of discomfort and pain were divided into eight stanzas, each made visible on a quilt. Two others were created give the display a visual beginning and end.

The Heartland Conference United Church of Christ planned the exhibit as “a moveable space designed for holy engagement,” said Conference Minister the Rev. David Long-Higgins. “How we can form an anti racist world — to bring people from our churches together?”

The Rev. Cameron Barr, Chair of the United Church of Christ Board, standing next to the exhibit at the UCCB’s March meeting.

The Ohio tour started Jan. 27 in Columbus at First Community Church with a concert that drew more than 400 people.

This video, by UCC videographer Bob Lormor, documents the rest of the journey, with stops in Cuyahoga Falls, Cleveland and Chagrin Falls. The UCC Board and Conference Ministers spent time with the exhibit during its last stop at the denomination’s national offices.

At each place along the tour organizers also gave people the opportunity to view Stitch, Breathe, Speak, a 17-minute documentary made shortly after the quilts were blessed. Pastor Koyama said this UCC documentary depicts how the quilt’s ministry continues.

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Categories: United Church of Christ News

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