Oue Prayer Shawl Ministry began in 2008 when a parishioner was facing serious surgery. Having read about a special ministry, one of our members made a prayer shawl which was blessed by the priest at the next Sunday service. People were so moved by this gift of love and support that more requests for shawls came in. The ministry quickly grew. We now have a team of eight members and friends who knit and crochet shawls in all colours and keep our cupboard well stocked. People who do not knit participate in the ministry by donating gifts of wool or money to help the cause.
When a prayer shawl is requested, it is placed on a small table in the sanctuary. At the offertory, the priest blesses the shawl, gives thanks for the work of the person who made it, and offers a prayer for the person who will receive it. As the congregation comes forward to receive communion, people pause by the shawl to add their own personal prayers in a quiet, but powerful and moving gesture of love and faith. When the shawl is delivered it is another assurance of faith.
Our shawls are given not only to parish members but to anyone for whom a request is made, in the local community and beyond - some have even gone to other countries. Many lovely cards and letters of thanks have been received from grateful recipients who have shared the feelings of peace and love that surround them as they wear the shawls. Often, when a shawl is worn in a hospital, staff and visitors alike are drawn by the living faith it represents.
When I make a prayer shawl, it gives me much pleasure - a time for quiet contemplation of Christ's healing ministry. I will not always know who will receive the shawl, or their circumstances, but I do know that the prayers embedded in the shawl will bring the recipient comfort, peace and hope, knowing that others share their journey. The team of shawl-makers and their supporters at All Saints' rejoice in their ministry, which is very close and personal yet reaches far and wide.
Paula Thomas, Coordinator