Prayer Shawl Ministry

Updated December 17, 2011

“You created every part of me,
knitting me in my Mother’s womb.
For such handiwork, I praise you.
Awesome this great wonder!”
                            Psalm 139:13-14

The Prayer Shawl Ministry is designed to bring together people willing to knit, crochet or quilt shawls that are then blessed during a Eucharist. Patterns are available as well as prayers that you can say while you work on the shawl. These shawls are then given to people in need – for reasons of illness or distress of any kind. They can also be given in celebration – the birth of a child, a baptism or a wedding. The feed back from people who received shawls has been wonderful. They describe it as feeling as if they are wrapped in the love and prayers of the people at St. Stephen's.

Official Prayer Shawl Ministries have been springing up for over 10 years, but the practice of using human hands to do God’s work has been happening since time began. Prayer Shawls, sometimes called Comfort Shawls, Peace Shawls, or Mantles, are knitted, crocheted, quilted, machine knitted or sewn as a gift to comfort, support, send a hug, or celebrate. They are offered at times of sickness, sorrow or grief, and also at times of celebration, like a baptism, wedding, or other special occasion.

“Shawls” may take many forms: they might be triangular, round or rectangular shawls, or they may be small blankets suitable for babies or laps. They might be made as a single piece, or may be assembled from smaller parts, like a granny square afghan.

St. Stephen’s is joining in this practice of sharing our prayers and our talents, of making shawls as the outward sign of our inner prayers and love. You are invited to contribute to the prayer shawl ministry by helping to make shawls. They are made prayerfully and with intention, but do not need to be made for specific recipients. You may make a shawl with general prayers for the intended recipient, asking that God bless him or her in His own loving way. Shawls will be blessed a the altar, and will be passed on to those in need of prayers.

If you are interested in taking part in the Prayer Shawl Ministry at St. Stephen's, please contact Canon Ed Swayze or leave a message at the church office. The following is informative text taken from The Prayer Shawl Ministry brochure, available for download by prayer shawl groups at www.shawlministry.com/brochure/Shawl_Ministry_Brochure_5_05.doc:

“In 1998, Janet Bristow and Victoria Galo, two graduates of the 1997 Women's Leadership Institute at The Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut gave birth to a ministry as a result of their experience in this program of applied Feminist Spirituality under the direction of Professor Miriam Therese Winter, MMS. Care and the love of knitting (and crochet) have been combined into a prayerful ministry that reaches out to those in need of comfort and solace. Many blessings are knitted into every shawl. The knitter begins each shawl with prayers for the recipient. Intentions are continued throughout the creation of the shawl. When the shawl is completed it is offered a final ritual before being sent along its way.

As this gift has been sent along, some recipients have continued the kindness by making one themselves and passing it onto someone in need. Thus, the blessing is rippled from person to person, with both the giver and receiver feeling the unconditional embrace of a sheltering, mothering God! Besides knit and crochet; the shawls can be woven, sewn, quilted, machine knitted, etc.”

To obtain further instructions on making a Prayer Shawl, please visit: www.shawlministry.com.

If you know someone who would benefit by receiving a Prayer Shawl, please contact Canon Ed.

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