by Rose Russell Member of HANDS “Shawls….made for centuries universal and embracing, symbolic of an inclusive, unconditionally loving, God. They wrap, enfold, comfort, cover, give solace, mother, hug, shelter and beautify. Those who have received these shawls have been uplifted and affirmed, as if given wings to fly above their troubles…….” Written in 1998 by Janet Bristow 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. Compassion and the love of knitting/crocheting have been combined into a prayerful ministry and spiritual practice which reaches out to those in need of comfort and solace, as well as in celebration and joy. Many blessings are prayed into every shawl. Rose Russell, Carolyn Moe and Pastor Donor have combined their ideas to begin a Gladbrook Area Prayer Shawl Ministry. So far, around 23 people have signed up to create the shawls. The group has been meeting at Gifts of Grace on Tuesdays beginning in November. Some come early and enjoy a quiet lunch before working on the shawls. At 2:00 p.m. the group settles into quiet time for devotions and prayer and sometimes the only sound you hear is the clicking of the needles as each person quietly prays while knitting or crocheting. Others that knit/crochet and are unable to attend work quietly at home on the shawls. How can you help?? If you like to knit or crochet an assortment of patterns is available for you. A notebook is kept at Gifts of Grace for you to browse through at your convenience. Another way to help is provide yarn or money for yarn. We’ve already been blessed by several people in this area. Usually 3-4 skeins of yarn will make a shawl depending on the pattern. There are two standard patterns (one knit/one crochet) that have been used for this ministry that make a wonderful, soft, warm shawl. Two Prayer Shawl Ministry Pattern books are also available to browse through that have samples that have already been created. Whether they are called Prayer Shawls, Comfort Shawls, or Peace Shawls, the shawl maker begins with prayers and blessings for the recipient. The intentions are continued throughout the creation of the shawl. Upon completion, a final blessing is offered before the shawl is sent on its way. Some recipients have continued the kindness by making a shawl and passing it onto someone in need. Thus, the blessing ripples from person-to-person, with both the giver and receiver feeling the unconditional embrace of a sheltering, mothering God! The group is working with local clergy to get the shawls delivered as quickly as we can. The Peace UCC Sr. YF is creating the Prayer Tags that we attach to each shawl. We hope to have more young people interested in making the tags for us so we always have one ready to go. On Tuesday, November 29, Rev. Robert Doner blessed the group and the shawls in a moving ceremony at Gifts of Grace. If you are interested in becoming involved in joining this prayer shawl ministry for the Gladbrook area or have any questions, please contact Rose Russell 473-3039 or Carolyn Moe at Gifts of Grace 473-2261. There are many ways you can help make the HANDS Prayer Shawl Ministry a success!
Some of the ladies of HANDS (Hope And Needles Doing Service) Prayer Shawl Ministry and their beautiful shawls at the Blessing of the group held on Tuesday, November 29 at Gifts of Grace by Rev. Robert Doner, pastor, Peace United Church of Christ in Gladbrook. Pictured (l-r) sitting: Joan Surber, Marcy Knaack, Shirley Miell, and Dorothy Wiese. 2nd row (l-r) Rose Russell, Bonnie Johannsen, Audrey Kuhl, Karen Ohrt, Kathy Anderson, and Rev. Robert Doner. In back (l-r) Caroline Moe and Becky Fish. Photo by Betty Dahms