Prayer Shawl Ministry

Prayer Shawl Ministry
Sit back passively when a loved one is hurting? Not likely. Knitters are an active bunch, and we want to be able to help. Sometimes, however, there’s not a lot that we can do. While prayer is always an option, we sometimes need to do this in a dynamic and energetic way. Enter the Prayer Shawl Ministry, a concept and loose organization begun by Janet Severi Bristow and Victoria Gallo in 1998.

Graduates of the Women’s Leadership Institute at the Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, the two women sought a merger of craft and spirituality. The idea, simply put: make a shawl for someone as a form of prayer. Think about them and their needs while beginning, working, and finishing, and use physical aspects of making as a focal point for contemplation, meditation, and/or prayer. Personalize the shawl as appropriate. Give it to the recipient as a way to honor struggle, embrace at a distance, and stay connected across time and distance. On so many levels, experience compassion and bonding love.

Today, the Prayer Shawl Ministry web site serves as a clearinghouse for those interested in the concept. Here, you will find the original patterns used by Bristow and Gallo, a collection of prayers to use before, during, and after the creation of a shawl, and a great deal more. Interested in knitting for charity? Want to browse patterns created by prayer shawl knitters? Want information on the three books co-written by Bristow and Gallo? You’ll find a list of organizations accepting donated items as well as links to the books and to patterns uploaded by other knitters.

Many of the patterns listed on the site use stitch patterns that feature groups of three, such as k3,p3 rib or Trinity Stitch. For some, this can showcase one’s Christian faith, which is in keeping with a ministry started by theology students. The listing of established prayer shawl groups, which is searchable by state, shows that nearly all of them are indeed associated with Christian churches. This may be off-putting for some knitters. Note, however, that the prayers listed on the site are a varied lot; while some are written from a Christian standpoint, others are more generalized in nature. The concept spans all religions and spiritualities, and it would not be difficult to use the site information as a jumping-off point for a prayer group based in a different faith, or for those who consider themselves spiritual but not religious.

For more information, check out the website:

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with this organization.

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