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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Church knows meaning of community

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Helen Knauer, holds the handmade quilt that will be auctioned off during the 51st Smorgasbord and Craft Bazaar held by the Beech Grove United Methodist Church. The event will take place at the Putnam County Fairgrounds Community Building on September 25.
BEECH GROVE -- From the church's very beginning, Beech Grove United Methodist Church members understood the importance of sharing.

When the Rev. James Smith began holding services in the Pierce schoolhouse in 1860, there were nine charter members. One of those members, John Carmichael, deeded over a lot to build a church in 1877.

The little frame church was built at a cost of $1,700.

The ladies of the church often came together in those early days to piece quilts and make rag rugs.

Today, that tradition continues. The Ladies Aid Society meets on the second Thursday of every month and spends the day working on projects at the church.

Fifty-one years ago, they began selling their quilts, rag rugs and other craft items at a chili supper held at the Putnam County Fairgrounds Community Building.

That chili supper has grown into a smorgasbord and craft bazaar as well as an auction for a beautiful handmade, hand-embroidered quilt made by church member Helen Knauer.

Knauer, who is 87, said her sister Georgie Thompson, who is now deceased, did the embroidery on the quilt.

"I moved into Asbury Towers last year after getting a pacemaker," she said. "I kept all these things in my two-car garage. I moved five carloads of things my sister made like these embroidered pieces."

The quilts are one-of-a-kind and often keepsake items. One quilt was created by the Ladies Aid Society in 1940 and had embroidered on it every church member's name. That one was given to the Rev. and Mrs. Bastin, who were the grandparents of the Rev. Phil Dorrel. The couple left Beech Grove Church in July 1940.

"Last year's quilt sold for about $750, but usually we make $300 or so," said Knauer. "Any items left over from the Bazaar also go up for auction so people want to be sure and stay after they eat."

The church was closed off and on since its beginnings, but always, the congregation has come back together as community.

Knauer, who was the Ladies Aid treasurer for 44 years, was instrumental in helping re-open the church in 1957. Her family, along with 35 other families, signed a petition to reopen the church.

New services were held on March 10, 1957 with 65 people present. It has remained open since that date.

It's not just the Ladies Aid Society active at the church, but also the Men's Brotherhood. As far back as 1961, the men's club tended a farm as a means to help finance the budget and remodeling of the church. They took care of the farm for eight years.

The original frame building has had five rooms added -- two classrooms, a front entry, education room for children's classes and a kitchen.

In 1967, the building was insulated, had new floors, carpet, paneling, and lights installed and had the ceilings lowered. They also added a new piano and furniture in sanctuary.

All these projects were paid for upfront, leaving the church debt-free.

On Sept. 25, they will open their doors to the community to enjoy a meal of home-style country cooking to include ham, chicken and noodles, meatballs, vegetables, salads, deviled eggs, rolls and all kinds of desserts. Cost is $8 per adult and $4 per child ages 6 to 12.

"We have some really good cooks," Knauer said. "We are so blessed with the Rocky Forks group who come to our church. One lady made 400 handmade rolls for the smorgasbord."

Participants will also have the opportunity to buy quilt tops, rag rugs and various other craft items made by the Ladies Aid Society.

"The rag rugs are available all year long. People can call me and I will get them," said Knauer.

The money made from the smorgasbord and craft bazaar will go to replace the carpet in the social room of the church.

"We just painted the social room a pale yellow," Kanuer said. "It was really dark wood paneling. Now we need to get new carpet."

The smorgasbord begins at 5 p.m. and runs until 6:30 p.m. The bazaar and auction begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Community Building at the Putnam County Fairgrounds.

Beech Grove United Methodist Church is located near the Putnam and Parke County line about three miles from U.S. Hwy. 36. For information about the church or Smorgasbord and Bazaar, or to buy rag rugs call Knauer at 653-6756.

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