Whitney Point UMC’s Sew ’n Sews ministry makes a difference in the lives of 10,000 girls
Picture 10,000 vibrant dresses in bright blues with checkered trim, or fuchsia a with floral trim, purple with paisley trim, or entirely floral in bright pinks, reds, turquoise, or yellow—gorgeous dresses. These dresses are for little girls in impoverished communities all over the world—dresses that were once sheets and pillow cases, or quilting patterns found when cleaning out attics of loved ones who have either passed away ore moved to a long-term care facility.
These 10,000 dresses were made by a group of women at Whitney Point United Methodist Church who get together every Friday morning and create dress kits ranging in sizes from infant to teenage. Their ministry is called Sew ‘n Sews. They wash every piece of fabric donated to them and choose complementary colors for each dress and trim. Sewing begins and elastic is added to the little shoulder straps. Each dress is prayed over and hung on the wall of their Fellowship Hall until there are plenty of dresses to bring to the New York State Dress a Girl Around the World Chapter located at Angels of Mercy in Rochester, NY.
On Sunday, May 20, Whitney Point UMC celebrated the 10,000 dresses made in their fellowship hall, decorated with nearly 200 dresses on the wall. Well over 100 people were there for the celebration.
The Rev, Corey Turnpenny, pastor at Whitney Point UMC opened the celebration. After pointing out a slide show on the back wall showcasing little girls around the world wearing dresses made right in the room they were sitting in, Pastor Corey said, “This isn’t just a celebration of 10,000 dresses. What this is, is a celebration of 10,000 girls around the world knowing they are loved, and that they have a layer of protection that will last them for years.”
Jean Ellis is the leader of the Sew ‘n Sews ministry group explained the many ways that God’s hands are involved in Dress a Girl. The friendship among the sewers is one of the blessings. She said, “It’s been a very exciting time; we have made so many dear friends. Many women who have done this ministry were in their 90s.” She points to a memorial board with photos of women (and men) who have greatly supported the ministry over the years and have left to be with God.
Several voices were raised from celebrants around the room mentioning women currently involved in the ministry who are in their 90s.
Even though the demographic of this group is older women, Jean gets younger women involved. She said with a giggle, “Some younger women say that they’ve never sewn a hem in their life and I tell them, ‘No problem we’ll show you!’”
Donations keep this ministry strong and effective. Every piece of thread, elastic, and fabric used in the Sew ‘n Sews ministry have been donated. God makes sure the Sew ‘n Sews never run out of materials.
Jean said, “All of our fabric has been donated. We have discovered that when we think we are running out of fabric on a Friday morning, that door (points to one of the doors in fellowship hall) opens and someone brings in more fabric. That reassures us that this is what God wants us to be doing.”
In addition to Pastor Corey and Jean Ellis, speakers present at the 10,000 Dresses celebration, included: Rachel Cinader, founder of Dress a Girl Around the World (who flew in from Iowa) and Mary Joe Colligan, President of Angels of Mercy.
Dress a Girl Around the World presented Sew ‘n Sews and Whitney Point UMC with an amazing, colorful painting of dresses on a clothes line that reads, Congratulations! 10,000 dresses for Dress a Girl.”
Angels of Mercy presented Sew ‘n Sews and Whitney Point UMC with a plaque that reads, “Angels of Mercy lovingly honors Sew ‘n Sews in recognition of their contribution of 10,000 dresses to bring hope and dignity to girls around the world. May 20 is declared Sew ‘n Sews Day in Whitney Point, NY. Your amazing accomplishment truly speaks of the love of Christ that you exemplify.”
The 10,000 Dresses celebration concluded with an expression of gratitude and another gift from Pastor Corey.
Pastor Corey said, “I have something to share that was made possible by funds donated in memory of Joyce Jones who was a long-time participant in the Sew ‘n Sews. These dresses have become a fixture in this room and I think they just soak up the love and the joy that is shared here every Sunday. We will now have a permanent fixture here even when we send off batches of dresses. This fixture will remind us of what an incredible accomplishment we made. I’ll unveil her.”
Pastor Corey moved hanging dresses to the sides and on the wall was a stunning metal wall hanging of an angel in a beautiful dress. The work of art was made in Haiti from a local craftsman from a leftover oil drum (learn more at itscactus.com).
Pastor Corey prayed a blessing over the dresses in the room. The attendees enjoyed refreshments and helped pack up the dresses to go to Angels of Mercy and eventually to girls who need them.
Pastor Corey said, “Thank you for what you do. It may seem like a small thing, giving a girl a dress, but it can mean everything to a little girl.”
Editor’s Note: To donate fabric or sewing supplies to Sew ‘n Sews, contact Rev. Corey Turnpenny at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the coming weeks, an article featuring Angels of Mercy and an article featuring Dress a Girl Around the World will further reveal how this amazing ministry is indeed God’s plan.