The idea of a Shawl Ministry began when Vicky Cole-Galo and Janet Bristow, graduates of the Women’s Leadership Institute at Hartford Seminary in the late 1990’s, met the charge to continue the spirit of their training in a hands-on way by knitting prayer shawls for women with breast cancer and others with spiritual needs. Just as needlework begins with a few stitches, and grows with continued work and effort, the shawl ministry concept has continued to grow. At St. Matthew’s, we have been working together for many, many years!
Prayer shawls are created using a pattern of three: some are knit, others crocheted, quilted or woven. The pattern symbolizes the Trinity, the cycle of birth, life and death, the past-present-and future, the bond of body-mind-and spirit, the resolution of two conflicting sides. Each shawl is begun, created, and finished with the purpose of incorporating God’s love, care, and warmth into its fabric.
What is somewhat unique to St Matthew’s ministry, is that we make not only shawls for times of grief or illness, but also times of celebration and joy, or simply because someone could use a “hug”. We continue to make shawls, baptismal blankets, lap robes, and scarves. At this point, we’ve stopped counting how many we make!! Each one has a label that is has been lovingly donated by one of our members, specifically for the Shawl Ministry, and has a card attached with a prayer and care instructions. Every month we end our time of working together and sharing fellowship by saying a beautiful prayer of blessing over the works of our hands and contributions of those who don’t make it to meetings, but leave their work in the office for us. Over several years we have also done an annual Meditation on Hands, sponsored by the Shawl Ministry, and open to all who work with their hands, be it washing dishes, needlework, or the labor of one’s profession.
Anyone can ask for a shawl, or let the clergy or a member of the group know of someone who might receive a shawl. If you would like to join us, or would like more information about shawl ministry, let us know. The St. Matthew’s website has a link to the Shawl Ministry website, also. We meet on the first Saturday of the month in the Fellowship Hall at 9:30 for fellowship and knitting. If you would like more information, contact the church, or Gail Pearson at 919-896-5677.