Piecemakers / Body of Christ Fellowship (Marie Kolasinski)

Piecemakers: A Cult of Christianity

While there are many legitimate churches named, “Body of Christ Fellowship,” this entry concerns the religious group also known by its business name of Piecemakers Country Store, or simply Piecemakers. The ‘piece’ in Piecemakers refers to the pieces of material using in quilting.

Body of Christ Fellowship is headed by Marie Kolasinski.

The group’s doctrines and practices mark it as, theologically, a cult of Christianity. Sociologically, Piecemakers has cult-like elements as well. [Note the differences between sociological and theological definitions of the term ‘cult’]

“The Story of Piecemakers”

On its website, the group presents its history as follows:

It was during the turbulent years of the sixties and early seventies when God was trying the souls of men and women, that the people called Piecemakers met a Person who drastically changed their lives. He was and is our Lord and deliverer, Jesus Christ. He called us much like He called the disciples when He walked the earth in the flesh. Some were truck drivers, some were teachers, businessmen, secretaries, housewives, and some were drifters. What they were didn’t matter. What they were to become was the important goal of His calling. Each one left all and followed Him to the end of their old, and what the Bible calls our corruptible life. And out of the ashes of our old lives, Piecemakers was born. The month was July, the year 1978.

Piecemakers began much like His life began — in a manger — a small 800 square-foot building in a nondescript part of Orange County. It was a quilt shop with classes for those who wished to learn how to make quilts. Then it went from quilts to fabric wall decorations, to making dolls and teddy bears, to tole painting, notions, flowers, cards, gifts, tile, woodworking — ever meeting the needs of the people of the community. As Piecemakers unfolded, not only did the talents within the people He called begin to sprout and take root, but also the trend seemed to be worldwide — people again getting back to the works of their hands — bringing forth grassroots skills. The male side of Piecemakers also began to come forth — again, grassroots skills. Tilers, furnituremakers, cabinetmakers, bricklayers, computer experts. There was one more move before the union between male skills and female skills. Before coming to our present location at 1720 Adams Avenue in Costa Mesa, California, the men had one business and the women another. Now we are all under one roof — all working together — and we are called “Piecemakers”.

Where we go from here, only God knows. There are many things in the horizon. However, unless God brings them forth, we of ourselves cannot do it. So we live in today and look toward new adventures in tomorrow.

– Source: The Story of Piecemakers,

The Piecemakers: Blessed — Or Abused?

A segment in People Weekly tells another story:

The Piecemakers Country Store in Costa Mesa, Calif., offers everything a crafts lover could ask for: quilts, sewing classes, an old-fashioned candy counter — and a chance to walk with Jesus.

“It was really neat in the beginning,” says Marion Simonds, 62, about Piecemakers, a booming retail business cum Christian sect that began 20 years ago as a Bible-study group in the home of Marie Kolasinski. “We all came and fellowshipped together.” But soon, say estranged members, Kolasinski, 72, began preaching communal living, no sex and limited communication among family members in order to bring her followers closer to God.

“Marie used to say, `If you’re not miserable, if your flesh isn’t being put to death, then God isn’t dealing with you,’ ” recalls Paula Foster, 44, who after 11 years broke away from Piecemakers in 1982. Kolasinski, for her part, is said to deal with her flock by cursing at and humiliating members in front of the group.

“She believes God is very intense,” explains Foster. “He’s a God that kicks you in the ass all the time.” Kolasinski’s hold over her members is such that Simonds and her husband, Harold, 63, signed over the title to their home to Piecemakers in 1986 and only won it back in 1992 after a yearlong legal battle. “We’re totally harmless,” insists Kolasinski, who says that the Simondses gave up their house freely. “We’re people that love the Lord. You don’t find that too much in this country.”

– Source: The Strangers Among Us: It’s Not Just Waco: Cults Ruled By Paranoia Flourish All Over America, People Weekly, April 19, 1993.