…a time to tear, and a time to sew
In the summer of 2015, the Rev. Carol Burnside, priest and quiltmaker, prayerfully took to her sewing machine. Like many of us, Carol was grieved by news of widespread violence against African Americans by white Americans. This was a time when the media assaulted us with one horror story after another, too often with graphic footage and little context. That was the summer I stopped writing sermon manuscripts because I threw out three of them in one week trying to respond to the deluge.
Carol used her art to process her grief and transform a useless sense of guilt into a profoundly useful meditation on responsibility, repentance, repair, and reconciliation. The initial result was a series of quilts titled A Race against Race. A race is a part of a sewing machine, an urgent pursuit of a goal, and—as applied to human beings—a construct to separate us from one another. Carol says, “My quilts are a race, with my sewing machine race, to fight against race to save lives.”
In contrast, Carol’s second series, Baltimore African American Episcopal Church Firsts, is a celebration of black Baltimoreans who broke barriers and blessed us with their ministry. Brilliant colors depict our bishop the Rt. Rev. Eugene Sutton, our presiding bishop the Most Rev. Bishop Curry, the Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray, and others. These quilts are full of faith, hope, joy, and the power of these gifts to overcome injustice.
Trinity will exhibit selections from both series during the month of October in conjunction with the Unity Fellowship Movement National Convocation meeting here October 5-8. We will open the showing on Friday, September 29, with a service of Evensong at 6pm, followed by a reception and chance to explore the quilts and talk with Rev. Burnside about her work. Our Evensong setting, composed by Carl MaultsBy, is lively, accessible, and singable. Please be a part of it.
A quilt is a lovely metaphor for what is emerging here in Trinity’s church. The members of Unity and Trinity all look different, live differently, and worship differently. We are a wide range of ages, backgrounds, and political views. Together, however, we are creating something holy: a glowing, multicolored quilt offering warmth, hope, and the love of Christ.