Picture 10,000 vibrant dresses in bright blues with checkered trim, or fuchsia a with floral trim, purple with paisley trim, or entirely floral in bright pinks, reds, turquoise, or yellow—gorgeous dresses. These dresses are for little girls in impoverished communities all over the world—dresses that were once sheets and pillow cases, or quilting patterns found when cleaning out attics of loved ones who have either passed away ore moved to a long-term care facility.
These dresses were made by a group of women at Whitney Point United Methodist Church who get together every Friday morning and create dress kits ranging in sizes from infant to teenage. Their ministry is called "Sew 'n Sews". They wash every piece of fabric donated to them and choose complementary colors for each dress and trim. Sewing begins and elastic is added to the little shoulder straps. Each dress is prayed over and hung on the wall of their Fellowship Hall until there are plenty of dresses to bring to the New York State Dress a Girl Around the World Chapter located at Angels of Mercy in Rochester, NY.
This past May 20, Whitney Point UMC celebrated the 10,000th dress made in their fellowship hall, decorated with nearly 200 dresses on the wall. Well over 100 people were there for the celebration.
The Rev, Corey Turnpenny, pastor at Whitney Point said, "This isn't just a celebration of 10,000 dresses. What this is, is a celebration of 10,000 girls around the world knowing they are loved, and that they have a layer of protection that will last them for years."
Donations keep this ministry strong and effective, says Jean Ellis, leader of the Sew 'n Sews ministry group. Every piece of thread, elastic, and fabric used in the Sew 'n Sews ministry have been donated. God makes sure the Sew 'n Sews never run out of materials.
Jean said, "All of our fabric has been donated. We have discovered that when we think we are running out of fabric on a Friday morning that door (points to one of the doors in fellowship hall) opens and someone brings in more fabric. That reassures us that this is what God wants us to be doing."
The 10,000 Dresses celebration concluded with an expression of gratitude and another gift from Pastor Corey.
Pastor Corey said, "I have something to share that was made possible by funds donated in memory of Joyce Jones who was a long-time participant in the Sew 'n Sews. These dresses have become a fixture in this room and I think they just soak up the love and the joy that is shared here every Sunday. We will now have a permanent fixture here even when we send off batches of dresses. This fixture will remind us of what an incredible accomplishment we made. I'll unveil her."
Pastor Corey said, "Thank you for what you do. It may seem like a small thing, giving a girl a dress, but it can mean everything to a little girl."
Shannon Hudson, Upper New York Annual Conference website
One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the World Service Fund is the financial lifeline to a long list of Christian mission and ministry throughout the denomination. Through the Four Areas of Focus churches are engaging in ministry with the poor and encouraging churches to be in ministry with their communities in ways that are transformative.