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Handmade items offer comfort

Posted: August 9, 2013 9:27 p.m.
Updated: August 9, 2013 9:27 p.m.

Members of the Prayer Shawl ministry gather during a meeting with the handmade shawls and blankets. The women form a circle, draping the items over their arms and offering a prayer and a blessing to the recipients of the items, asking God to bring them comfort and show them his love.

 

A small group of women tirelessly knit, crochet and sew everyday, making handmade items meant to offer comfort, love and joy to complete strangers facing illness or difficult situations.

Prayer Shawl’s, Stitch and Prayer — the ministry goes by different names, but in many churches across Santa Clarita the program is the same. A group of women, and sometimes men, meet one or two times a month, bringing in handmade blankets, shawls, scarves and other items made at home. The groups gather to fellowship, share ideas and patterns and make even more items to distribute.

 

Answering the call

Christ Lutheran Church hosts a Prayer Shawl Ministry, which was started in 2009 by Sydney Herbert, 68. Herbert said she felt the Holy Spirit calling her to begin this ministry during a meaningful trip to the craft store. After a little resistance and much prayer, she began the group with 12 other people.

The ladies, many a whiz at their craft, work in partnership with Olive View Hospital creating prayer shawls for the sick, blankets for foster children, caps for the neonatal ward and scarves for the military. Many of the items are sent to other non-profit groups throughout the valley and shipped to troops overseas.

“The concept is, no matter what their religious affiliation, we want to give when we hear there is a need,” said Herbert. “We want them to know God’s love through these items.”

After each item is created, the women bring them together and offer a prayer over the finished items, asking God to comfort the person who receives it. The group creates approximately 70 items each month.

Prayer in every stitch

Maria Sears, 73, said she had a similar experience when she first began the Blanket Brigade group at Santa Clarita United Methodist Church, which was later expanded to include a Prayer Shawl ministry at Valencia United Methodist Church as well.

Sears attended a retreat in 2001 where she was asked to talk about her goals for the future and ways she could serve the community. This is when she said she felt God urging her to share her desire to begin a knitting ministry and asked others to join. Within a few months she had nearly 30 other women join the group.

“God gives us talents to use,” said Sears. “I was hoping to help with my talent, but I had no idea I would have such a response.”

The group began making items for foster children in transition, scarves and hats for the homeless, blankets for special needs children, hats for cancer patients and prayer shawls for the ill. Sears says they usually don’t know who the item will go to, but often end up with thank you notes expressing how lovely the items are and how they picked the person’s favorite color.

The Blanket Brigade has created more than 3,000 items for people in need. The Prayer Shawl group just reached their 1,000 item last month. Each item is prayed over as it is created. Then once finished, the women form a blessing circle to pray over every item again.

“We believe in the power of prayer and we put prayer into every stitch,” said Sears.

 Covered with God’s Love

The Stitch & Prayer team at Bethlehem Lutheran Church is one of the longer — running ministries in the valley, started more than 15 years ago. Their motto: cover the people they are helping with the love of Jesus.

The group creates handmade prayer shawls for people recently diagnosed with cancer and other diseases, blankets for newborns and the grieving, and often send items to the Santa Clarita Pregnancy Center and Child Share. When asked about the group’s motivation Diana Lund, group leader, said they share a common talent and heart for service.

“We love to crochet and kit,” she said. “The idea of making things for people who were hurting seemed like a great way to serve God.”

The group prays over each handmade item before it is packaged and readied to be delivered to the person in need. They pray that the items offer a physical reminder of God’s love to each person.

“We ask God to bless the hands that made it and bless the person who receives it that they may be comforted,” she said. “We want them to know they are a child of God and covered with the love of Jesus.”

To join a group or for more information about donating yarn or money to the ministries, contact: gsydneyj@gmail.com at Christ Lutheran Church, deriter@aol.com at Santa Clarita or Valencia United Methodist Churches, dlund@bethlehemscv.com at Bethlehem Lutheran. Others are encouraged to join the groups regardless of church or religious affiliation.

 

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