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  • Writer's pictureRev. Dr. Dave Long-Higgins

Heartland Conference

Photo from the back of a church, showing a vaulted wooden ceiling, wooden pews on either side of a red carpeted aisle, and in the center distance, a large pipe organ and lectern lit up with glowing gold and purple light
Mt. Zion Congregational Church UCC, Cleveland, Ohio

The soul of the Heartland Conference has been stretched wider and deeper because of the covenantal gift of the New Hampshire Conference through the sharing of the Sacred Ally Quilt Ministry. This ministry of collaboration memorializing the last words of George Floyd's through 10 quilts created by nine congregations has formed a modern "Tent of Meeting" as it moves through our shared life. Beginning at First Community Church in Columbus, Ohio, where the world-famous gospel choir director, Dr. Ray Wise, led his remarkable Raise Mass Choir, it then went to Cuyahoga Falls where a panel including a State Senator, a community organizer, and a leader in a national black police officer organization were moderated by one of our pastors in a discussion of police reform.

This past week SAQM has been at the Community Life Center of Federated Church in Chagrin Falls where several events including worship and times of sacred silence have already occurred. This week, Dr. Harriet Ward and Rev. Mark Koyama, leaders of SAQM, will join in two events, first via zoom in Chagrin Falls and then in person at Mt. Zion UCC in Cleveland. At each setting, the documentary "Stitch, Breathe, Speak," which conveys the process of SAQM's development, has been shared, followed by engaged conversation.

Hundreds of people have experienced SAQM already and its journey through the Heartland Conference is only halfway done. SAQM will have its final showing at the national UCC offices and will be experienced by the entire Council of Conference Ministers and the United Church of Christ Board as they meet in a join session on March 3rd. The entire experience which this work of love has engendered has been powerful and holy. We are so grateful for the covenantal trust of the New Hampshire Conference and the Sacred Ally Quilt Ministry as we have stewarded in these weeks. We are being blessed, indeed!


"Stitched" - A Prayer Inspired by the Sacred Ally Quilt Ministry

Loving God,

Stitch us anew

Forming the fragments

Of Your human family

Into something more

Than the world sees

As possible or probable.

Let no story be scrapped

As unimportant

Or unworthy of notice

All carrying something of You

And Your beloved unfolding.

Let Your Christ-presence

Bear a new beginning

Sewing souls together

In sacred discovery

Of beauty too long hidden.

Let each stitch

Of Your loving presence

Bind us closer to You

And to each other

In awe of common breath

Forming a Holy wholeness

Through sacred recognition

Of our need to remember

Stories too long stacked

On the scrap pile of history

Yet not forgotten by You.

By Your grace,

Stitch us ever-anew

With Your Christ-love

Broadening the quilt

Of Your loving design

Until every last piece

Is given its proper place

As part of the wholeness

You are already forming.

Yes, form the fabric

Of anger and awe

Of worry and wonder

Into some sacred piece

Freeing us from fear

Bearing a precious peace

Otherwise impossible

Without Your sewing Spirit

Able to make all things new

Scrap by scrap, bit by bit

In time and beyond time.

Grant us grace to consent

To Your call to be used

In this grand quilt

Of Your desire and design

That delight may emerge

Ever-anew for everyone

All created as beloved

By Your loving hand.

Yes, Love, stitch us

With You for nothing less

Than this of Your revealing.

Amen and Amen

Offered by Heartland Conference Minister, Rev. Dr. David Long-Higgins, to the Heartland Conference, February 2022.


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