Finding Common Threads: Church Group Bonds in the Sewing Room


Sometimes a new idea can take hold among old friends and make relationships stronger. The Sew-Cial at Midway Locust Grove United Methodist Church started in January with a couple of women thinking they would get together at the church once a month to sew. They soon found they didn’t won’t to wait a month to get together again, and it evolved to every-other week, then weekly. 
The group has now grown to 17 women. Initially they were working on various individual projects, and still do, but now much of the sewing also has a mission focus. They’ve sewn 75 blankets they are sending to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation the church is in relationship with and are also contributing blankets through Church World Service via the Festival of Sharing. 
The sewing rooms at the church are well-equipped, with a large cutting table crafted by a sewer’s grandson, a design board on the wall, sewing machines and a large quilting frame that was donated to the group by Wilkes Blvd.United Methodist Church. 
The group meets on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with people coming and going whenever they have an opportunity. Several of the sewers break from the group from 11 a.m. to noon to participate in a yoga class at the church. 
They also do road trips once a month to quilt shows or quilt shops. They took a three-day trip to Brunswick to a quilting retreat center. There they had rooms like motel rooms, and a big room for us to gather and sew in. 
“You could go up and put on your pajamas and come back down and sew some more,” Kathy Koehler said. “Some of us were sewing until midnight or 1 a.m.”
They are currently planning a trip to the national quilt museum in Kentucky. Women who had been attending church together for years without having formed close friendships are now like sisters. 
“It’s been a fascinating thing to watch develop organically,” said Rev. Kate McClain.

Making Disciples since 1817

Celebrating its 200th anniversary this year, Midway Locust Grove is the oldest institution (civic, political or religious) in Boone County and one of the oldest continuously serving United Methodist Churches west of the Mississippi.
The Methodist Society in the community was organized in 1817. The brick chapel they built in 1830 resulted in the entire community being called the Brick Chapel Neighborhood, until the government put a post office in at Midway in 1869. The year after that the Methodist tore down their brick chapel and built the sanctuary that is still in use today. 
And it gets a lot of use. Take a look at the church’s online calendar, and you’ll find twice as many days with activities as without. The monthly newsletter, Locust Leaves, is nine months into its 30th volume. It reads more like a community newspaper than a church newsletter, as would be expected since its editor Gene Baumann has a journalism degree and has worked as a newspaper journalist. 
The church is wrapping-up a year-long celebration of its special anniversary year with a four-day celebration September 30 through October 2. Friday evening is a musical celebration, Saturday evening is a barbeque, Sunday is a special worship service and Monday is a tour of the cemetery, which dates back to 1835.  
For other 200-year-old United Methodist Churches in Missouri, see the July 2016 issue of The Missouri Methodists. For more on Midway Locust Grove UMC, go to