The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

November 2, 2013

Quilt a tie to history

Annual Mennonite Relief Sale offers assortment of quilts

By Dale Denwalt, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — The winning bid came late.

Amanda Anderson of Enid knew she wanted the quilt — stitched with panels designed by each Mennonite church in the state — when she saw it Saturday morning. She almost didn’t make it to the auction floor in time, though.

Bids for the quilt slowed around $900, and the auctioneer at the Oklahoma Mennonite Relief Sale began pressing the competitors to get another bid. When it seemed like it would go to someone else, Anderson caught the attention of an auction assistant, who yipped loud to get the seller’s attention.

She won.

For Amanda and her husband, Scott Anderson, the quilt is a tie to their family history, from Germany to the United States, and into the Mennonite communities of Oklahoma.

Amanda grew up in the Enid Mennonite Brethren Church and recently has started attending again.

The quilt had large panels, each depicting farm life or farm machinery. The church in Cordell included the stitched image of an old church.

“I love to do photography of churches, so that one caught my eye, too,” Amanda said.

Family ties and good artwork are the reason the Mennonites hold the annual sale in Enid — to fund its disaster relief efforts. Consider it tithing.

“You’re giving back to international missions, so it’s going to a good cause,” Amanda said.

The quilts, Afghans and other hand-worked creations were made by Mennonites from across the state. One church from Pennsylvania even donated to the cause.

Joanie Quiring of First Mennonite Church in Clinton made two herself. She also added a few stitches to the overall Peoples’ Choice winner, a double-wedding ring quilt designed by Vonita Unruh.

Quiring said this year was the third in a row that her church’s quilt was selected as most popular.

“We’ve gotten that the last two years, so we did not expect to get it again,” she said.

Despite its popularity, the People’s Choice quilt did not garner the highest bid. It finally sold Saturday for $2,000. However, nothing’s guaranteed in an auction.

“It’s disappointing when it doesn’t sell high, because there’s so much work, and there’s several hundred dollars of material in each quilt, that if it just goes for $600, you hardly make your money back,” Quiring said. “But the money’s going for relief, so we like it to go high.”

Oklahoma City-area resident Jerry Jantzen dropped $6,900 on six items. One quilt he now takes home, made by the Amish community in Chouteau, fetched $4,700.

“Now I’ve got to go find a bank that’s open today, to where I can go borrow some money to pay for what we spent,” he joked.

Jantzen said he’s come to all but one Mennonite relief sale in Enid. Over the years, he estimates he’s collected 40 or 50 items.

Regional Director of Donor Relations Maynard Knepp said he was optimistic about the sale.

“Giving is doing very well” in 2013, he said. “Through the economy and everything, we’ve been able to hold steady here in Oklahoma.” 

The organization raised nearly $158,000 through the auction and sales.