Have you or a family member ever been seriously ill? Have you lost a loved one? In times of deep distress or sorrow, it is often reassuring to have a tangible token of someone’s support. It is always reassuring to know that someone is praying for you.
The Prayer Shawl Ministry here at FPC takes both of those things and combines them to provide people who are in times of need with a physical representation of prayer.
“We bless every shawl before we give it to anyone,” said Milly Lenhart. Lenhart worked to start the Prayer Shawl Ministry here at FPC in 2007.
In the nine years the Ministry has been in service, they have given away 1,075 prayer shawls. They keep a record of every shawl they have ever distributed and who received it.
“This is such a ministry,” says Marilyn Leonard. “We have more than 150 shawls ready to distribute now. We have them in dark colors for men, in smaller sizes for children, for everyone.”
“There have been times when we had people who wanted to help knit but couldn’t afford yarn,” Milly says. “The money would always magically appear.”
“Through this ministry, God has taught us how to trust Him,” she continues. “Whenever we ran out of money or yarn, we would find a great sale or get donations. One time, an anonymous donation was made of $600. What a blessing that was.”
Each shawl is prayed over by the women as they make them, and then each completed shawl is blessed by the group before they are put into the pool to be distributed. The individual who will receive the shawl is prayed for individually, even though that person isn’t yet known.
Marge Boyer keeps a scrapbook of thank you notes.
“I have it at home,” Marge says. “It got too heavy to carry it back and forth all the time.”
“Many people report that they feel like God is wrapping them in His arms when they wear the shawls,” Milly says. “I often pray while I am picking the shawl that I will select just the right one.”
Jackie Hayes makes approximately one shawl per week, but has made as many as four a week when they didn’t have an excess of shawls available. She, Marge, Milly and Marilyn are joined by Marilyn Morgan and Betsy Agey in the group. They meet monthly and average six to eight at each gathering.
“People forget, I think, that this is not just a blessing to the people who receive the shawls, but it is a blessing to those who make them,” Milly says. “While we make them, we are praying, which brings us closer to God.”
Milly also noted that, like many of us, witnessing can be daunting. “But giving someone a prayer shawl opens conversations in ways that other things don’t.”
The Prayer Shawl Ministry has a few guidelines for receipt of a shawl. Those guidelines are:
- In mourning
- Serious health problems
- Hip replacement/knee replacement
- Caregivers for someone homebound or seriously ill
- Moving from the area for health issues
- Not able to care for themselves because of health or age
- Going through an extremely difficult time
If you know someone you would like to receive a prayer shawl, please contact the church office at 863.686.7187.