peachtree road storybook

Write down for the coming generation what the Lord has done, so that people not yet born will praise him. – Psalms 102:18

The Needlework Guild

By Marcia Gaddis

“A community of believers may still bring the gifts of their own labor and skill to the worship of God as people have done since the earliest times.”
For The Greater Glory, Mary P. Olsen

There have been many women and men who have given of their time to design, plan and execute decorative elements throughout the churchwide campus. Probably the first record of any kind of needlework we have is when Martha Esaias discovered Chrismons while visiting a church in Virginia. She brought the technique of hand-sewing Christian symbols to Peachtree Road. Since the late 60s, these beautiful designs have withstood the test of time and continue to adorn our trees in the Sanctuary and the Narthex. In 2023 Pat Price, PRUMC member, took it upon herself to repair and restore many of our Chrismons, using materials from her very own wedding gown.

Sanctuary Bench of Peachtree Road United Methodist Church Atlanta.

Church Expansion in 2002 Provides for Creative Needlework in Sanctuary

On a different and magnificent scale, needlepoint stitchers of the church, along with professional architects and skilled craftsmen, have created exquisite needlepoint designs throughout our beautiful worship spaces. Project by project, stitch after stitch, we are blessed to have these richly adorned and historically significant needlework designs for our daily viewing, care, and use.

In 2002, the doors opened to our beautiful Sanctuary.  Of course, all eyes were drawn to the 12 great windows, reflecting glorious light throughout. Beneath each window a nine-foot upholstered bench was installed for overflow seating.  Putting the finishing touches on one of his architectural masterpieces, Henri Jova convinced pastor Don Harp that needlepoint cushions, reflecting the colors in the above glass, would complete the great windows.

Volunteers went to meet with Mr. Jova who arranged for the designs to be developed by Needlepoint Garden. According to the illustrated book, Filled with Light, more than 40 women, working in teams, worked for three years, creating nearly 394,000 stitches in each of the 12 canvases, totaling an amazing four million seven hundred twenty-eight thousand stitches. Names of the stitchers are listed on a plaque at the end of each bench.

Needlepoint Kneelers by the Needlepoint Guild of Peachtree Road United Methodist Church Atlanta - Sanctuary Kneelers
Needlepoint Kneelers by the Needlepoint Guild of Peachtree Road United Methodist Church Atlanta - Sanctuary Kneelers
Needlepoint Kneelers by the Needlepoint Guild of Peachtree Road United Methodist Church Atlanta - Sanctuary Kneelers

Moore Chapel Kneelers

Moore Chapel Kneelers of Peachtree Road United Methodist Church Atlanta.

After the Needlepoint Guild rested from their endeavors, another project was proposed in 2007. The kneelers in the Moore Chapel were showing signs of wear and Mary Janet Lumpkin, Chair of Altar Guild called Alleen Bratton to chair this project.  Alleen called in Susan Sawyer, Lynn Nobis and Alma Scroggins to coordinate the work. They sought the advice of Nancy Keating of Decatur, Georgia, who developed and painted the designs.  It was their goal to represent all areas of church life. These designs are incorporated into sixteen kneelers along with an assortment of cross designs on each side. When the 2 million stitch project was completed, it was dedicated to Mary Ellen Harp.

Needlepoint Kneelers by the Needlepoint Guild of Peachtree Road United Methodist Church Atlanta - Moore Chapel Kneelers
Needlepoint Kneelers by the Needlepoint Guild of Peachtree Road United Methodist Church Atlanta - Moore Chapel Kneelers

Sanctuary Altar Kneelers

Needlepoint Kneelers by the Needlepoint Guild of Peachtree Road United Methodist Church Atlanta - Sanctuary Kneelers

In 2013 Mr. Richard Stephens gave a memorial gift to the church in memory of his wife, Barbara.  It was suggested that the kneelers at the Altar be needlepointed to coordinate with the window benches.

J. P. Sligh was commissioned to create a design that was simple and elegant.  Three designs were alternated and repeated for the eighteen kneelers. The Dove, representing the Holy Spirit, The Medallion representing the Rose Window, and the Cross and Crown, representing Christ’s royalty and sacrifice combine to make an exquisite design.

Over 2,000,000 stitches were needed to complete this project which took 12,101 volunteer hours by the following people:

Alleen Bratton
Nancy Caldwell
Beth Culp
Rick Emery
Helen French

Marsha Grout
Mary Janet Harden
Jean Held
Pat Hickson
Rhonda Hickson

Joanna McDonald
Emily Milsaps
Lynn Nobis
Angela Price
Nancy Rank

Susan Sawyer
Alma Scroggins
Kim Thiessen
Linda Zimmerman

Sanctuary Chancel Chairs

On May 6, 2018, after two years of needlework, six beautiful pulpit chairs were dedicated during the worship services. An anonymous donor gave the money for the upholstering of the chairs. The center designs, painted by J.P. Sligh feature the cross and crown, representing Christ’s royalty and sacrificial death, and the dove, representing the Holy Spirit.

The faithful Needlepoint Guild rose to the task once again and stitched 1, 386,060 stitches and used over 40,000 feet of wool. Volunteers were Mindy Bean, Alleen Bratton, Nancy Caldwell, Collier Collier, Beth Culp, Rick Emery, Helen French, Marsha Grout, Mary Janet Harden, Rhonda Hickson, Kathy King, Angela Price, Nany Rank, Susan Sawyer, Alma Scroggins, Kim Thiessen, and Linda Zimmerman.

Wedding Kneelers for Sanctuary and Chapel

Our church is blessed to have two beautiful spaces for weddings. Both the Moore Chapel and The Sanctuary have needlepoint kneelers which were designed by J.P. Sligh with suggestions by the stitching teams.  The principal stitchers for Moore Chapel were Marsha Grout and Susan Sawyer. The Sanctuary kneeler was given by Mr. and Mrs. James H. Bratton, Jr. and the project was completed by Alleen Bratton, Lynn Nobis, Susan Sawyer, and Alma Scroggins.

The Needlework Guild has kept records of their projects, along with expenses and even had the work appraised for the church records. Every project came in under budget, a tribute to stitchers and the leadership teams. Throughout all the commissioned projects, Corn Upholstery of Tucker, Georgia, has put the finishing touches on all the kneelers and benches, and has been called to come and professionally clean when needed.

From 2002 until today, Peachtree Road United Methodist Church is adorned with liturgical expressions of beauty through the faithful and tireless efforts of so many – designers, painters, upholsterers, and of course the many hands that have stitched….and stitched…..and stitched. We give thanks for these and those not mentioned who gave all to the glory of God.

For further reading and knowledge about needlework designs, refer to the book, Filled with Light, pages 86-90.