Davis gives locals comfort and encouragement one stitch at a time

Published 2:35 pm Tuesday, May 16, 2023

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Countless residents in Beaufort County and surrounding areas have felt the healing touch of Metta Davis who has sewed quilts for at least 60 years for those who are either sick or recovering from an illness or surgery. 

Davis, 90, of Belhaven, and her sewing partner Levalle Manning, listen for prayer requests at their churches on Sundays at Bethany United Methodist in Belhaven and Life Gate Baptist Church in Greenville. Any person who is sick, in the hospital or recovering from either an illness or surgery receives a quilt. In all the years Davis has made the quilts, she has neither received a formal request for one nor has she taken payment for one.

She said it “feels good” knowing her quilts have brought joy to many people’s lives. “I like doing it for people,” Davis said. 

“I hope people who get them are blessed and makes them feel better and like them,” Davis said. 

Two weeks ago, a woman at Bethany UMC expressed her gratitude and appreciation for a quilt Davis sewed for her. Davis said it was a “blessing” to hear the woman’s words. 

Cindy Daw, Davis’ daughter, said her mother “single handedly started it on her own through the church, because in her heart, she really wanted to start doing it. She spearheaded it and keeps it going.” 

It also makes Davis feel good knowing her church is supporting her by donating materials for the quilts, she said. 

Davis and Manning sew 40inx60in quilts that are unique to recipients; therefore, no quilt has a duplicate design. Women may receive one made with floral patterns whereas a man may receive one with wildlife motifs. One quilt takes about a week for Davis to sew. “I’ve never had one returned yet,” she joked. 

Before Davis’ quilts are given to recipients, they are prayed over by the minister and congregants at Bethany UMC. 

“That’s the power of prayer,” Daw said. When they receive the quilt, they can be assured that there are numerous people that are praying for them for their particular prayer request at the time.” 

Davis began sewing quilts in the 1960’s with a group of ladies at the Winstonville community center on Tuesday afternoons which she described as “great” and “a lot of fun.” She took a quilting class from what is now Beaufort County Community College and she learned from her aunts, Dorothy Sparrow and Lula Sparrow. Davis’ sister, Jackie Sadler, also quilted with the group. 

By the early 1980’s, Davis joined a separate group of ladies at a Methodist church who met weekly to sew prayer quilts. The quilts would have the recipient’s name, congregant’s signatures and messages of comfort and encouragement. The group moved on to knit and crochet prayer shawls. Davis didn’t know how to knit or crochet; therefore, she took a break from the group. When the group dissolved, Davis returned to making quilts. 

Today, Davis takes her quilts to church to place them on the altar so that church members can pray over them before Pastor Harry Smith can bless the quilts. 

Davis sews every day except Sunday, because her mother and grandmother taught her that Sundays were meant for rest. Any stitch sewn on a Sunday would have to be removed on Monday, because it would be wrong, they warned Davis. 

Davis has lived in Belhaven most of her life and was a stay at home mother. She is the widow of David “Tex” Davis, Sr. The Davis’ had six children – three girls and three boys. One of the daughters, Darlene Berry of Hyde County, likes to sew and is now making quilts for fellow church members. 

Of the quilts she has sewn, Davis couldn’t pick which ones were her favorites; however, she considers the wedding ring quilts she has made for her grandchildren to be special above most.