The first meeting of the Prayer Shawl Ministry took place on June 2, 2009 with 3 ladies in attendance. During that first summer it was the goal of the PSM to love on the church family of The Heights Baptist Church with shawls and lap robes(blankets) that they made for members who were experiencing a crisis situation. The shawls were made to comfort those suffering a loss, experiencing grief, or walking through a health journey, such as cancer treatment or anything requiring extended care. As these items were being made, the ladies spent time in prayer over the gift and its receiver. The shawls and lap robes were beautifully tagged and packaged for the pastors and deacons to deliver to members as they made hospital and family visits.
During the first summer average attendance grew to 7 to 12 members each week. As new members came so did the passion to reach beyond our goal. We started making baby blankets, crosses, and then by the end of the year, hats and scarves for the children of Harding Street.
Every Tuesday morning the ladies would meet for 21/2 hours to work on projects, share patterns and skills, as well as knit and crochet. Yarn and tools were donated by people who learned of the Prayer Shawl Ministry and a closet was quickly filled with plastic containers filled with donated yarn. As the ladies gathered to work and create, they were able to pick out yarn for new projects. The meetings were a time of godly fellowship, a shared a skill or two and a devotion into God’s Word. Most important, a time was set aside to pray over the knitted shawls for God’s love, presence and comfort for those receiving them in their difficult situation.
The PSM is now in its 5th year and average attendance at our weekly meetings has grown to about 17 to 20 each week. In addition, we have many ladies who stitch for us at home that are unable to make the weekly meetings. Also, we have started 3 sister PSM groups in area churches. These PSM groups work on projects for their church family but work with us on community projects such as The Children’s Hospital at VCU, The Virginia Cancer Institute and The ROC, of Petersburg.
In addition to growing as a group we have grown as how we serve. In our beginning, we served our church family with shawls and lap robes, baby blankets for new parents and crosses for new believers completed the list of loving our family. Since then we have gone outside the walls and into our community to Petersburg, Hopewell, Colonial Heights, Richmond, and Fries; then to our world to Honduras, Nicaragua, Ukraine, and around the globe with Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes. We have made baby blankets, preemie hats, baby sweaters for our local hospitals; slippers,shawls and lap robes for area nursing homes, shelters, and counseling centers; wash cloths and baby blankets for countries around the world; and warm hats and scarves for children in Petersburg and the Ukraine. To add it all up that sum would be about 5,000 knitted/crocheted items in 5 years!
In conclusion, this group of ladies has clicked their needles together added a little yarn and sent a bit of love and warmth through our church, through our neighborhood, our community and around the world. These garments of love wrap babies, wash bodies, warm heads and necks, comfort lonely souls, and warm toes, and keep old and tired shoulders and laps warm again.
ITEMS NEEDED & HOW THEY ARE USED
- 36″ x 36″ children’s blankets (toddlers through teens) (bright colors) – VCU
- Preemie hats of various sizes – VCU
- Angel baby sets (lovely white 24″ x 24″ blanket and hat for infant who passes away) – VCU
- 36″ x 36″ baby blankets – The Heights baby dedication candidates/VCU
- Baby blanket/hat sets – VCU
- Cross bookmarks – The Heights baptism candidates
- 24″ x 24″ lightweight, airy baby blankets – Nicaragua
- Hat/Scarf sets – Ukraine/Angel Tree/Crestos
- Hats – VA Cancer Institute • Shawls & Lap blankets – The Heights Family/Riverview on The Appomattox/Colonial Heights Rehabilitation Center/Pregnancy Help Center/Grace Home
- Slippers – Riverview on the Appomattox/Colonial Heights Rehabilitation Center
- Washcloths – Nicaragua/Ukraine/Destination Unknown/Operation Christmas Child/Colonial Heights Food Pantry
The handiwork of the ladies of the Prayer Shawl Ministry touches the lives of the very young and the very young at heart. They provide a remembrance for occasions of joy and celebration, for grieving, and for comfort. The items they create are gifts that open doors to share the love of Christ. They reach out to the neighbors in their hometown, children in their state capital, strangers in their hemisphere and even the other side of the planet. God is so good to have given them these gifts and talents. Others are blessed because they do not squander their gifts but instead faithfully use them to spread The Gospel.