A Florida vacation left Barb Ward with a surprising and fresh vision for making an impact in local and global missions. 

Barb, a member of Kilmore United Methodist Church in Frankfort, IN, was inspired after a chance meeting with a woman who was involved in Dress A Girl Around the World,” a non-profit that sews dresses that are given to young girls in the U.S. and around the world through ministries, missionaries, individuals, and humanitarian teams. In 2010, Kilmore UMC’s dress ministry was born.

After making an announcement in the church service, four women from KUMC volunteered to join Barb in this new sewing venture. One woman had fabric that she donated to get them started. A friend of the ministry in Rossville supplied them with material in bulk. The stitching team quickly saw a need to get organized, so a room in the church is now dedicated to the dress ministry. 

The dresses are predominantly one style and sewn in sizes 3-12. They are distributed locally for Christmas boxes for children, as well as overseas as far as Thailand, Haiti, and Papa New Guinea. (The church put together a scrapbook to testify to the distance and impact of the dresses.) The hope and prayer is that as girls receive dresses, they experience a sense of being clothed with God’s love, assured of their worth and dignity.

This modest team of women have sewn over 5,000 dresses since their launch a decade ago. 

For these sewists, God is calling them to clothe those who need to be clothed. “Use your talents to do what God wants you to do,” said Barb. The dress ministry has led others in the church to knit hats and gloves for local schools. “Not everyone can sew dresses, but God gives everyone talents that can be used to serve God and others.”

Conference Superintendent Lore Blinn Gibson was serving the North Central district in an interim capacity when she met Barb. “The dress ministry is an opportunity for talented Clinton County crafters to send hope through lovely dresses to children in places that are impoverished due to a long history of violence or disasters from climate change. Some of these children have lost everything. These pretty dresses bring more than clothing. They bring hope and a reminder that, through people they will never know, God is caring for them. Barb Ward gives her whole heart to this ministry.”