From the Archives… "Prayer Shawl Ministry"

We are a congregation of generous and active people who contribute in meaningful ways by practicing our faith each day.  The focus of our archive display for January and February is our Prayer Shawl Ministry that was started in 2004 by the late Jacqueline Wild, the former spouse of Rev. John Wild and the mother of Mark Wild.  She learned about this ministry from her daughter who was involved in her own church after Janet Bristow and Victoria Galo in 1998 created this amazing outreach ministry in Connecticut. Janet Bristow wrote,  “Care and the love of knitting have been combined into a prayerful ministry that reaches out to those in need of comfort and solace.  Many blessings are knitted into every shawl.”

Jackie brought this ministry to First Parish Church where she and Jane Primmer teamed up to start it here and have had a committed group of knitters for years prior to the pandemic. “Shawls have been made for centuries to wrap in for comfort and warmth.  The simple act of knitting allows one to witness God’s mysterious love in a very tangible, concrete form.  As we ask for God’s love to be woven into the yarn in the hands of the knitter, we pray that you may also feel uplifted and embraced.”

Jane Primmer wrote, “Part of the journey of prayer and faith is to recognize that we may never know how our love and care will touch or change another person’s life.  Through the shawl knitting ministry we can learn to trust the truth that God works through us when we care for friends and strangers alike.” 

After creating a prayer shawl for a particular person, a personal visit and presentation of the shawl is held along with the reading of a couple of prayers and a personal note from the knitter and/or others friends from First Parish. Since 2004, more than 100 prayer shawls have been lovingly created and presented to our church members.  Jane has also faithfully maintained a prayer shawl photo album containing a photograph of the recipient and the knitter and/or others from this ministry that was taken at the presentation of the prayer shawl. 

We recognize Jackie Wild and Jane Primmer for this amazing gift that they started at our church.  After nearly 20 years of shepherding knitters and this ministry, Jane is passing the leadership to Bonnie Connolly.  So, as another year begins, perhaps knitting is on your agenda and you would like another way to spread your love and support to others who are facing surgery, loss, or celebrating a special event in their lives.  If you want more information, you can contact Bonnie. 

Our archive display in the sanctuary includes photos of some of the recipients lovingly enveloped by their precious shawls.  As a recipient myself after my husband died, I can attest to the love and support that the shawl has brought me knowing that my dear friend Caroline Below’s hands, heart and love created it for me.  The photos below are a precious reminder of some of our former church members. Please check out our sanctuary display for more.

(Click on the images to see an enlarged version)

Below are church bulletins from January 1924 and January 1974.

January 1924 (100 years ago!)

(Click on the images to see an enlarged version)

January 1974 (50 years ago):

(Click on the images to see an enlarged version)

“Keeping Christmas” by Henry Van Dyke remains a powerful reminder of the work that we all need to do in our world.  Blessings to you as we help all people, creatures and our Earth crying out for love, respect and kindness.

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