Liza Mitchell and Mary Etta Heggie began a project to create needlepoint kneelers for Grace Church's communion rail 30 years ago. They designed patterns and recruited members of all ages to help stitch and complete two beautiful kneelers. But growing children, busy jobs and changes at Grace Church kept the creative pair from completing their project… until now.

“We consider this our mission,” said Liza as she looked over her design for a new kneeler. Liza and Mary Etta are once again creating… and looking for additional members to help complete their project.

The ladies make quite a creative team. Mary Etta is the researcher, studying the Bible and looking for stories she can visualize. Liza is the artist, sketching the scenes and choosing colors and patterns. They use only symbols (no people) and work to keep the scenes as historically accurate as possible. The first four kneelers, which have been used at our communion rail for more than 20 years, depict scenes from the Old Testament. The new kneelers will show stories from the New Testament.

Once they have created their design, the ladies give the pattern to a willing church member with all the tools they need to stitch a small segment. That member will get one week to work on the project before it is passed along to another member. No level of expertise is required. As a matter of fact, Liza and Mary Etta are offering to teach members the basics of needlepoint so they can contribute to the project. Liza says having different people with different skill levels work on the project adds to the texture and uniqueness of the final product.

“I'm so excited to see this project completed,” said The Rev. Todd McDowell. “I'm so thankful for Mary Etta's and Liza's leadership. We look forward to dedicating the kneelers in our church.”

Liza and Mary E

tta met when they were 15- and 17-years old and have remained best friends ever since. “People always thought we were sisters,” Liza recalls. They began working on the needlepoint project while they were both stay-at-home moms and members of Grace Church. Liza is now almost 70 and still a member at Grace, but sometimes attends Emmanuel in Webster Groves with her children and grandchildren. Mary Etta is now 72 and a member at St. Matthew's. But they were both drawn back to Grace to complete this project. “I felt like I was doing this for God,” Mary Etta explained.

After 30 years, the big question is: when will the kneelers be completed?  “As soon as possible!” answered Liza.

Contact Liza or Mary Etta if you would like to help complete the kneeler project and be a part of this labor of love.

To view the slide show below, click on the arrow in the middle of the picture. After you click the arrow, you can also click on the thumbnails below to see individual pictures. Click on the four arrows in the lower right to see the pictures full-screen.


One Response to Needlepoint for God

  1. Ellen Baker says:

    I have enjoyed watching this project evolve for 25 of the 30 yrs and was honored to contribute many yrs ago. If I know Mary Etta, I’ll be recruited for more needlework. These women truly are “the saints of God.”