--By Jackie Campbell-- Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi was surprised when the Rev. Jonathan and Anne Bell arrived in her office recently bearing a unique gift -- a quilted wall hanging created by Anne from communion cloths she made for the Bishop’s welcome service last October.
The 60-inch square wall-hanging uses colors that reflect the Cross and Flame and Pentecost, Anne explained. “The crosses are different sizes like the congregations of Western Pennsylvania, and the perspective from which we view the crosses varies, reflecting our personal walks of salvation."
“I’m blessed to have been asked to create this gift from the Conference to Bishop Cynthia,” she said.
The Rev. Janet Lord, a deacon who serves as Coordinator of Ministerial Services for the Board of Ordained Ministry, put the process in motion. While coordinating the logistics for serving communion during the welcome service, Lord said she didn't want to use paper napkins in the baskets holding the bread, but didn't want to spend money on cloth napkins for one-time use.
"I thought about asking Anne to make something simple that we could use that day," she recalled. "Then in a God-inspired moment, I wondered if she could take those cloths and make something permanent as a reminder of the day. Anne took it from there and God just kept blessing every step of the artistic process."
The Bishop was overwhelmed by the striking piece and, as one who sews herself, appreciated the amount of work that went into it. She and others who saw it described the spiritual messages it conveyed to them.
Jonathan Bell, pastor of Good Shepherd UMC, said he was extremely proud of his wife’s artistic creativity and the spiritual depth she demonstrated in creating the banner.
"Each square touched the elements of Christ's body and blood shared among God's people in Western Pennsylvania,” he noted in a Facebook post. “The colors of the piece reflect the fire of Pentecost and the burning desire to speak with the eloquence of the Holy Spirit in spreading the Good News of the Gospel.
“The crosses are all different, just as each of us is uniquely created. And the perspective of the crosses are arranged to remind us that all of humanity comes to the Cross of Christ from varying places and positions in life. A true labor of love!”
Lord echoed that sentiment. "What made the presentation special for her, she said, "was seeing the joy on Anne's face. She was really very grateful to be asked to do it."
The wall hanging is called They Are Precious in His Sight. It was inspired by the youngest of the Bell's four sons, 4-year-old Toby, who sings himself to sleep. As his mom was working on the piece, he began singing "Jesus Loves the Little Children." When he got to "They are precious in his sight," Anne told him he had come up with the name.
Before the gift bearers departed, Bishop Moore-Koikoi had picked a spot on the office wall facing her desk to hang it and enlisted a visiting friend to help her shop for a rod to hold it. See more photos