Shawl recipients wrapped in love

Published 1:59 am Saturday, September 10, 2011

A couple of years ago, Corrie Owens sat and knitted while she waited to get in line for the Wednesday night suppers at First United Methodist Church. If someone inquired about what she was making, Corrie was pleased because she had embarked upon a project that she believes in—the prayer shawl ministry. Those who knit or crochet the shawls pray over them and give them to people who are sick or experiencing difficulty .She learned about this special caring ministry from a friend involved with one at a United Methodist church in Birmingham.

Corrie’s efforts caught the interest of church member Maribel Brown, an accomplished seamstress. Corrie convinced her to pick up her knitting needles to make shawls. Soon Pat Wilcox and Helen Hess joined them. They met once a week at each other’s homes. Eventually, they began meeting every week at the church. Now 14 women gather at the church to crochet or knit the prayer shawls on Monday mornings. They also keep their needles going at home and have taught six how to knit. Four others who can’t schedule the Monday meetings also make shawls and turn them over to the group to distribute. They have donated 173 prayer shawls to date. Now it isn’t just a Methodist group. Several Baptists, Episcopalians, and Catholics are among their number.

As their nimble fingers shape the yarn into the beautiful shawls, the women pray that the recipients of the shawls will feel embraced with God’s love as they wear them across their shoulders or use them as coverlets. The purpose of the shawls is to make recipients aware that someone cares about them—that they are not alone. Rev. Tim Trent, minister of First United Methodist Church, blesses the shawls before the women deliver them.

Corrie told me that one of the church members was very ill when she received a shawl. When she improved, although still weak, she joined the group and her daughter or husband drove her to the gathering. When she died unexpectedly a few months later, her family requested that memorials be made to the prayer shawl ministry.

Several weeks ago, Rev. Trent designated Sunday, Aug. 28, as a time to recognize the ministry. He requested donations, explaining that it takes three $6 skeins of yarn to make a shawl. The response was overwhelming with contributions totaling $1,077. On that day, colorful shawls lined the altar rails in the church sanctuary.

The first time I heard of this ministry, I thought it was wonderful. I found it even more so when Pat Wilcox brought shawls to my husband Claude and me several weeks before Claude died in December. It is hard to explain how blessed I felt as I wrapped mine around my shoulders and buried my teary face in a corner of the soft, beautiful yarn.

Prayer shawl ladies, thank you for spreading God’s love. May he continue to bless your busy fingers and loving hearts.