It’s not about the quilts. It’s about the prayers.

This speaks to the heartfelt mission of Calvary United Methodist Church’s ministry, Prayers and Squares.

The group, which is part of an international non-denominational organization by the same name, began in 2007 at the suggestion of the pastor’s wife, Joy Hicks. According to Joyce Davis, who now oversees the project, the focus has never changed.

“These knotted quilts are given to someone in crisis who is willing to accept our prayers,” she said. “Most often that is a health issue like cancer but it is sometimes an emotional or mental one. We make no judgement. We just pray for healing or whatever the need is.”

While Prayers and Squares is led by Calvary United Methodist, the members often include people from other churches.

“We have people from a number of denominations,” Davis said. “If their heart is in this ministry, they are welcome to be part of it.”

Not all members of the group are quilters. Some come to just tie the knots, some just to place the label which says, in part “each knot represents a prayer we said for you.”

Once the quilt is completed, it is laid on the railings around the church’s altar. For two services, the congregation prays over the quilt, while tying additional knots. A paper is temporarily attached so that those in the church will be aware of the circumstance and the prayer can be as specific as possible.

“It doesn’t matter that there are already knots,” Davis said. “We just tie knots on top of other knots. When the person who receives the quilt runs their hands over it, he or she knows that each one represents a prayer for comfort and healing.”

While many of the quilts go to people living in the area, Davis said there are outlets for quantities of quilts to be sent.

“We give a number of quilts to Burlington United Methodist Family Services in Beckley,” she said. “This is a place that ministers to children in need, ones who are facing hard circumstances in their lives.”

Davis says that the chaplain of the center shares the child’s story while maintaining strict privacy.

“She tells me so many times the child wears the quilt,” Davis said. “They often come with nothing and this is the first quilt they have ever had. One child, who had to be hospitalized, only wanted one thing to take and that was the quilt.”

While Davis said she doesn’t often talk to the recipient of the quilts, the counselor at the Kenneth Honey Rubenstein Juvenile Center in Davis, West Virginia, called to see if she’d speak to one of the young men there.

“He just wanted to thank us, saying how much the quilt meant to him,” Davis said with emotion. “He said this was the first time in his life he had a bed with a quilt. And he was so appreciative because in his words, ‘it was full of prayers for me.’”

With the current health crisis in the country, the group has added one more task to the ministry. They are busy making cotton masks for local health care providers.

“Our members have made hundreds of masks,” Davis said. “We’ve delivered to the hospital and now are giving them to the health department to distribute. They’ll know where the need is.”

Prayers and Squares meets the first and third Wednesdays at Calvary United Methodist Church located on North Church Street in Ripley.

“We’re Marthas,” Davis said, referring to the woman in the Bible who worked diligently preparing her home for a visit from Jesus. “We love to sew but it really is about the prayer, not the quilt.”

For information about Prayers and Squares, visit prayerquilt.org.