MCC photo/Thomas Adlard

Fifty people make 50 blocks with a star on each one for the quilt that celebrates the 50th anniversary of West Coast Mennonite Sale and Auction. The quilt will be on display and sold at the relief sale in Fresno, California, on April 7, 8.

The 50 stars on the 50th anniversary quilt for the West Coast Mennonite Sale and Auction are all unique. Colors are different, styles of stars are different and the print on the fabric varies.

All the seamstresses who made a star used some sparkly gold and dark cream fabric that was provided but they combined it with their own fabric, letting their own creativity and sense of beauty shine. One person made several stars using fabric from Africa and Indonesia as well as fabric with Native American and Latin American motifs.

This star in this quilt block represents Native Americans who live within the West Coast MCC region.MCC photo/Thomas Adlard.And yet, when all these varied quilt blocks, with one large star in each one, are combined with blue borders between blocks and exquisite quilting, the results “are just gorgeous,” said Pauline Aguilar, quilting coordinator for West Coast MCC.

“The beauty of it is the diversity of it,” said Aguilar. “It represents our region well because many of our West Coast churches are ethnically or culturally diverse.  

The quilt will be sold at the 50th relief sale that will be held in Fresno on April 7 and 8. For 50 years, people in the San Joaquin Valley have been combining their skill and hard work to organize these sales.

Gathering the blocks to make the anniversary quilt, Aguilar said, required the work of many people. It reminded her of the teamwork required to put on relief sales every years.

“Everybody’s gift if valuable,” she said. “People give greatly of what they have. Everybody gives differently. Somebody comes and puts up chairs. Somebody gives $10,000 for a quilt. Somebody cleans the floor.  Somebody drives things there.”

People have been working together to organize the West Coast Mennonite Sale and Auction since 1967 in a fruit-packing shed between Reedley and Dinuba, with attendees parking in the nearby orchards, said Bill Braun, 50th Anniversary Sale Committee Chair. It moved to Fresno Pacific College (now University) in 1981.

“While raising money is always a significant focus of the sale,” Braun said, “the Fresno sale also has invested considerable energy to highlight fellowship and education. It is generally viewed as a great place to learn about MCC, to meet old friends and to contribute to the work of MCC around the world.”

Learn more about the 50th West Coast Mennonite Sale and Auction, to be held April 7, 8  

To encourage continued connection and participation, organizers of this year’s sale are encouraging 50 churches to participate in some way, by being official representatives, creating baskets for the silent auction, running a booth or making food or quilts and comforters. Children are challenged to gather 50,000 coins for My Coins Count.

Attendees also can visit the 50th anniversary booth to see special pictures, a video and other memories of sales in the past 50 years. The quilt is currently on display at the Mennonite Quilt Center in Reedley and it will be on display at the sale before it is sold.

The quilt has been finished since September 2016, about a year after Aguilar first presented the idea for a quilt of stars that would represent God’s fulfillment of his promises to faithful followers today, just like he did to Abraham in Genesis.

After the idea was approved, she began requesting stars blocks through various quilting connections, including quilting chairpersons for West Coast MCC’s five relief sales. Contributions of star blocks came from six of the 10 states that are part of the West Coast MCC region.

The quilting was done by Nikki Yarger using an intricate pattern of stars and moons.MCC photo/Thomas Adlard

Fifty people helped in the creation of the quilt, including Anita Lindberg of Albany, Oregon, who created the design for the quilt top; Kathleen Heinrichs, of Reedley, Calif., a 40-year volunteer at the West Coast Quilt Center, sewed the blocks together; and Nikki Yarber, of Visalia, Calif., custom quilted it.

Aguilar has enjoyed watching women find their star in the quilt.

“It’s special to witness the joy that is expressed when the women see their star shining bright in this quilt. It’s then that they realize they are part of something bigger, just like those that participate in the relief sale.”