Saturday, June 02, 2012

John Jasper Bicentennial Commemorative Quilt Unveiled in Richmond, VA

John Jasper Bicentennial Commemorative Quilt - Richmond, VA
If you're in the Richmond, Virginia area, you must take time to visit the Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church and view the John Jasper Bicentennial Commemorative Quilt!  Can you imagine what this magnificent piece must look like in person?!

I recently had a delightful conversation with Mr. Benjamin Ross, Church Historian at the Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church.

For those who may be unfamiliar with Rev. John Jasper, he was one of the most well-known African-American preachers of the nineteenth-century, saving and baptizing many at camp meetings. He organized the Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church in 1867 and served there for 34 years.

Mr. Ross, can you tell us about this quilt?

BR:  The John Jasper Bicentennial Commemorative Quilt was created to celebrate the 200th birthday of Reverend John Jasper (1812-1901), our founding pastor. The center panel offers Reverend Jasper himself, with the Bible in one corner and the state of Virginia in the other corner. Jasper traveled throughout the Commonwealth preaching to all who came to hear him.

The quilt is approximately 11 feet by 11 feet. It has eight panels of the sun rotating around the quilt. This is a symbolic gesture of Jasper's famous sermon, De Sun Do Move. There are also eight panels of stars rotating around the quilt. Each individual star represents the number of years that Jasper was a free emancipated man. The green fabric that holds the sun and stars together represents the earth, thus the full title of the sermon, De Sun Do Move, Earth Am Square.

Who stitched the quilt? How long did it take to complete the quilt?

BR:  Work on the quilt began in August 2011 by members of the Victory Senior Adult Ministry,  with consultation by the Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia, especially Mary Lauderdale.  The quilters who made this quilt are: Phillip Battle, Carolyn Broderick, Nannie Johnson, Ollie Gibbs, Emma Edmonds, Christine Mears, Delores Greene, Gloria Scott, Elaine Wells, Louise Jones, and Barbara Whitaker.  We purchased many of the fabrics from Quilting Adventures in Richmond, VA.

Quilting has been a part of church activities for a number of years. The Victory Club of the Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church created a 45-panel quilt for our 130th Church Anniversary in 1996/1997.

Celebrating and preserving history seems very important to the church.

BR: Yes, it is. We have the John Jasper Memorial Room, available to the public, with information about the church and its rich history. Virginia Commonwealth University also has an archive of papers about the church and Rev. Jasper.

Mr. Ross, thank you and the Victory Senior Adult Ministry for sharing news of the John Jasper Bicentennial Commemorative Quilt.  There's a rich history of churches stitching quilts as commemorative pieces (e.g., Third Baptist Church in Toledo, OH or Episcopal priest Pauli Murray) and we're glad to know about the Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church, Rev. Tyrone E. Nelson, senior pastor.  Enjoy!