The idea came to Mary Emeigh,
a member of Christ Lutheran Church, Lower Saucon, when she read an article about
prayer shawl ministry in the December 2001 issue of The Lutheran magazine.
The story told of people praying over shawls as they knitted them, then sharing
the shawls with persons experiencing illness or other need.
Mary took the idea one step further than the description in the article. She
suggested to Pastor Tom Neel that the many knitters in the congregation provide
shawls. Then the shawls could be passed through the congregation during worship
so that each person could hold the shawl and say a prayer over it.
The idea was an instant success. Knitters provided the shawls; the entire congregation
provided the prayers. About once a month, new shawls are passed through the congregation
during worship. As persons receive a shawl, they pause from the worship service
and say a prayer.
Sometimes the name of the recipient of a shawl is known. Most times, the prayed-over
shawls are stored in a closet to wait for the appropriate time. When Pastor Neel
visits someone in the hospital or anyone in need, he takes one of the shawls
along as a gift.
You don’t have to be a knitter to participate in the project. If you don’t
knit, you can provide yarn or monetary gifts to purchase materials.
Last winter, one of the recipients of a shawl following surgery was Pastor John
Brndjar, former director of Lutheran Congregational Services. Although he is
not a member of the congregation, he received the shawl during a hospital visit
by Pastor Neel, who was the LCS board chair at the time.
“It was a very powerful experience,” Pastor Brndjar reported to synod staff
member Jim Wolford.
“One of the most wonderful aspects of this project,” says Pastor Neel, “Is
that it came from the congregation. I had nothing to do with its initiation.
It’s a great witness to the ministry of everyone in the congregation.”