Five members of Killeen’s St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church sewed while sharing stories and techniques in the parish hall on a recent Wednesday afternoon.
The women belong to the church’s Prayer Shawl Ministry; its members knit and crochet special shawls.
“The Prayer Shawl Ministry is a way to show a physical manifestation — a token of God’s love — to be especially comforting when someone is going through a difficult time of life,” said the Rev. Janice Jones, the church’s rector.
The shawls are created at the monthly meetings and during participants’ free time. The finished shawls are prayed over by Jones during Sunday services.
“We pray for whoever will receive them to know the nearness of God and to understand that they are never alone,” Jones said. “Hopefully, they will find some comfort in the knowledge that they’re surrounded by God’s love always.”
The prayer shawls are designed to envelop the receiver in a manner that allows each person to feel the love and warmth that go with prayer, said Elaine Gray, the ministry’s organizer, a shawl wrapped around her shoulders. “I get chills when I start talking about it.”
Anyone who requests one or is identified by the church as being in need receives a shawl. Members make smaller prayer shawls for babies when they are baptized.
JoAnn Carthey was inspired to join the group after her husband received a prayer shawl following surgery. “It’s different, being on the receiving end,” she said. “It provides warmth in cold hospitals, and it has a special meaning.”
The retired teacher has been able to refresh her crocheting skills and learn to knit through working with the ministry.
Nan Lathrop joined her mother, Joan Ott, at each meeting since Gray started the group last fall.
“I like doing craft work that can be useful,” Lathrop said. “People appreciate it.”
Ott spent the Dec. 3 meeting sewing together crocheted squares. A man had found the squares cleaning out his mother’s house following her death. Now, they will be put to new use in a prayer shawl for him, in remembrance of his mother.
Members showed first-time attendee Clare Kroeger the standard materials they use to craft the shawls. Kroeger, like most of the group’s members, is a part of the Order of the Daughters of the King, a religious community that calls its membership to serve as a reflection of God’s love in the world. With that, service and prayer are the order’s primary requirements. The prayer shawl ministry fills both those important roles, Gray said.
“It’s fulfilling,” Gray said. “It fulfills a need (for the receivers) and fulfills a want in our individuals (who participate).