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An Update on the Pray for America Quilt

September 9, 2011

Like most Americans, I experienced a range of emotions in the days immediately after September 11, 2001.  I set out on a hike by myself in the Santa Monica mountains the morning of Saturday, September 15, 2001, to think through the events of the week, and to try to figure out if there was anything I could do to help others who were injured or who lost loved ones in the attacks.   It was with those thoughts, that I strode into Temescal Canyon, escaping the heat under a canopy of trees.  I was so deep in thought for the next hour and a half, that I scarcely remember the hike.  But I do remember emerging back into the bright sunlight into the parking lot with an idea.

The idea was to ask all of the religious congregations in the Palisades to contribute a quilt block to create a “Pray For America” quilt.  Our pastor, Wally Mees, the pastor of Palisades Lutheran, was enthusiastic.  Within a few days, I personally met with or spoke to leaders of all of the congregations in the Palisades, and had distributed blocks of muslin fabric to quilters and artists from ten congregations.

The Pray for America Quilt was created as a call to prayer following the 9/11 attacks.  Blocks were contributed by Kehillat Israel, Self Realization Fellowship, the Mormon Church, Calvary Christian, Chabad of Pacific Palisades, Corpus Christi Catholic Church, Palisades Lutheran Church, Palisades Presbyterian Church, United Methodist Church and St. Matthews Episcopal Church.  Prayer is the unifying thread that runs through all faiths.   The only requirement was that the resulting blocks relate to the “Pray for America” theme.  Quilters and artists from the congregations utilized many quilt-making and artistic techniques:  machine and hand appliqué and embroidery; pen and ink; fabric paint and an art transfer technique.

The secondary purpose was to raise money for the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund through a raffle.  A check in the amount of the $3, 336 raised in raffle sales was presented to Judy Jankowski, from the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Barbara Windebank, of Bournemouth, England, was announced as the winner of the quilt at the community Inter-Faith Thanksgiving service on November 20, 2001.  Barbara and her husband, Harold, were visiting their son, Richard, and his wife, Wendy—both longtime Palisadians.   The Windebanks brought the quilt to England, where it was displayed in community centers and also at Salisbury Cathedral to mark the first anniversary of the 2001 attacks.  The quilt was brought back to America by the Windebanks in 2002, to be displayed here.  Over the next several years, it was displayed at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, at the Los Angeles County fair, at Fire Station 69, and in other venues around the Palisades.

This year, the quilt may be seen at Palisades Lutheran Church, where it will be on display for two weeks.  Both Barbara and Harold Windebank have passed away within the last few years—Harold at ninety three years of age, and Barbara at ninety six years of age.  They gave the quilt to me several years ago, to be returned to the place where it was created.

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