Handmade items help demonstrate church group’s faith in action

Twenty years ago, the Deacons’ Wives Ministry got its start in Ja-net Cronkite’s home in Etna. The idea was to put faith in action.

“We noticed that our senior women can’t do as much as they once could, and they don’t get noticed as much as they once did. So we determined to reach out to them,” Cronkite said. The group reaches out through crafting.

After a few years of meeting in one another’s homes, the ministry now meets in the fellowship hall of Calvary Baptist Church in Newport. The group is composed of Cronkite and deacons’ wives Rosa, Joyce and Laura, and six helpers, Joan, Diane, Hazel, Evelyn, Sharon and Shirley, who preferred not to have their last names used because they want their actions to stand for them.

“We want to be testimony for others to do this work,” said Cronkite, serving as spokeswoman for the group.

The highlight of the group’s outreach work culminates at Christmas time. During the year, the 10 women make as many as 37 Christmas stockings that in past years have been filled with many handmade gifts, including slippers, dishcloths, coasters, tea wallets filled with tea bags, candy in boxes fashioned from recycled greeting cards, cloth sachets filled with recycled pieces of scented candles, tea cups, pins, notepads and religious tracts.

At the party when the Christmas stockings are presented, Cronkite said the tables are spread with pretty tablecloths, the centerpieces are china teapots and the table is set with bone china tea cups.

“The ladies love digging into those stockings,” Cronkite said. “[The women] know they are loved.”

When the senior women arrive at the party, their cars are parked courtesy of Calvary Baptist  Church Pastor George Perkins, who then escorts each lady into the fellowship hall. Then a Queen for the Day is chosen. Last year it was Edna Chambers, 97, of Newport.

“We have such a special church,” Cronkite said.

The group also reaches out to young mothers and children.

Just this past Easter, the group made nearly two dozen scarves to give to women in the church, and made and sent Valentine’s cards to the elderly men and women in the church.

One year, the group made what they call Mummy Bags for young mothers, each bag containing slippers, a scarf, pen and paper, soap, sachet, hand cream nail polish, a Christian fiction book and other items.

Another year, the group knit slippers for every child — at least 50 — in the church. Cronkite, who learned to knit a few years ago, estimated that she has knit over the years more than 1,000 pairs of slippers.

And four years ago the group made more than 200 patchwork tote bags to hand out, one of the many indications of the group’s devotion to the concept of faith in action.

“They have giving hearts,” Cronkite said of the women in the Deacons Wives Ministry. “I think it’s very rare to find a group that works together like this. We do it joyfully.”

Since a great deal of yarn is needed to fashion the handmade items, several women in the church have taken it on themselves to frequent yard sales and thrift shops in search of yarn at bargain prices. “We recycle everything we can,” Cronkite said.

Cronkite said she spends at least four hours each day working on the various craft projects the group undertakes.

“Crafting is a way to lift the spirit,” Cronkite said. “ We never get bored. We’re always thinking of things to do. We’re serving the Lord. This is the greatest joy.”


Orono Quilters will hold its annual quilt show 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at the Old Town United Methodist Church, 744 Stillwater Ave. The theme is “Maine Wildflowers.” The event will feature a quilt raffle, a penny raffle, white elephants, vendors and Project Linus. Admission is by suggested donation of $3.

Phyllis Goss of Glenburn has a crochet project left unfinished by her mother. She is seeking someone to either finish the project for her or help her refresh her crochet skills so she can finish it herself. To learn more, email rpvistaway@aol.com.

The Great Cranberry Island Historical Society Museum features an exhibit on Rachel Field, who summered in the Cranberry isle in the 1920s and 1930s, and who was the author of “Hitty: Her First 100 Years,” a story about the adventures of a little wooden doll. The exhibit displays dolls made in Hitty’s image and other items of interest to dollmakers, collectors and the general public. Of special interest to all is the delightful “Hitty” DVD produced on the island and sold as a fundraiser for the museum. The museum also has on display several beautiful dresses of late 1800s vintage. Admission to the museum is free. Getting to the island and the museum requires an approximately 20-minute boat ride from Northeast Harbor. For information, call 244-7800.

The newly-organized Cranky Pants Machine and Sewing Club for those who use or want to learn how to use treadle sewing machines will meet at 6 p.m. Friday, May 17, at The Cotton Cupboard in Bangor.

Call Ardeana Hamlin at 990-8153 or email ahamlin@bangordailynews.com. Don’t forget to visit her blog at byhand.bangordailynews.com.