In 1984 UniLu commissioned Nancy Dworsky from Meadow of Dan in Virginia to create a large quilt in honor of the ministry of Pastor Constance Parvey, who became the first woman ordained in the New England Synod on December 3, 1972. The quilt was to be appropriate for hanging in the Alumni/ae Room with the option of occasional use as an altar hanging in the chancel.
At a discussion in 1984, Nancy Dworsky described the process of making the quilt, a torturous journey for her through many starts and re-starts to achieve what she hoped. She read to us from some of her poetry and expanded on how the meaning of the shapes and textures of the quilt related to her own spiritual journey. The stars in the quilt are variations on the Jerusalem Cross and at their center is a Star of David. She related that the quilt came into being as she was in a period of deep meditation on each petition of the Lord’s Prayer. There are seven stars in the pattern. Surrounding each star is a form of rosette quilting, reminding us of the apocalyptic legend that in the Kingdom Come the crown of thorns will become roses. Surrounding the stars is a deep blue field of color in which are quilted scallop forms, reminding us of the baptismal shell symbol. The quilt is framed in cloth and texture, the colors coming from the autumn colors of the woods where Nancy Dworsky lives.
As an urban church, we are enriched by these traditional craft-art forms now reworked in a new context. As an art form associated with women, these quilts further testify to the lively capacities, talents, and insights of women among us.
Adapted from the Inkspot, August 1984, by Chris Pollari. Photo by Chris Pollari.