Prayer Shawl Ministry struggling to meet goal

JOHN RISHEL/THE EXPRESS An “infant minstry” within the Prayer Shawl Ministry creates infant sweaters, hats, booties, and comfort dolls for child patients.

By JOHN RISHEL

jrishel@lockhaven.com

MILL HALL — The Prayer Shawl Ministry at Bald Eagle United Presbyterian Church, 111 Main St., Mill Hall, has been providing knitted goods to various personal care homes, nursing homes and hospitals in the area for nearly 12 years.

However, according to pastor Susan Champion, the ministry is “in need of people to help knit or crochet prayer shawls.”

“We need about 100 of them (shawls),” she said. “We are working very hard, but it seems like we are falling behind our goal.”

JOHN RISHEL/THE EXPRESS The prayer shawl ministry provides several different kinds of yarn and patterns to volunteers completely free of charge.

Champion estimates that the ministry currently has between 30 and 35 knitters and crocheters from all walks of life who volunteer their time.

Most of them have had struggles in their lives and are now giving back, she said.

“We have anywhere from 18 to 26 ladies at our monthly prayer shawl gatherings. However, we have a lot of women who do their needle work entirely from home and send it into us. In other words, we never see them, but we see the results of their hard work and we so appreciate their dedication. Each item that is made by the ministry is identified and tagged with one of our custom made tags. We actually have taggers, we have counters, organizers, kitchen help and needle workers. It takes a family of God to keep this ministry running, with God as our leader,” Champion said.

“Our prayer shawl ministry welcomes all denominations and all skill levels. Beginners are able to receive help from expert needle workers in a kind and loving setting. Some people just come in to get yarn, but everyone is able to work on exactly what they want to work on, from color to pattern. We have ladies making mittens, some are making hats, others scarves, prayer shawls and lap robes. We have an infant minstry within the prayer shawl ministry. Infant sweaters, hats, booties, and comfort dolls are created by this section of the ministry. We have also developed a prosthesis ministry, we have and give away prosthesis kits. They are made out of a special yard that does not irritate the skin, they come with the fiber filling, weights and washing instructions. All we need to know is the size needed and we can ship them anywhere.”

There is no set pattern for the shawls and they can be any size. The church supplies all the yarn, free of charge.

JOHN RISHEL/THE EXPRESS Pastor Susan Champion welcomes community members to a monthly luncheon for the Bald Eagle United Presbyterian Church Prayer Shawl Ministry.

“The ministry was started about 12 years ago. When we opened the doors to this type of ministry, we had no idea if anyone would come. I remember the first day, when a few girls walked through the door and I was thrilled. We talked, we laughed and did a little needle work and that was the beginning of something I couldn’t even imagine because I had no idea how or what to do next. The ministry took off when God took over. People learned about us through word of mouth and local newspapers, they started calling for information and coming with their needles. Yarn seemed to be in short supply for all the knitting and crocheting that was being done, so we put the word out for donations of yarn. I remember going to people’s houses to pick up bags of yarn and was glad to get it. It was shared with all,” she said.

Champion says the ministry goes through about $50 in yarn each month.

The ministry meets for a complimentary lunch at the church on the first Wednesday of each month, allowing people to knit from home and then bring their items into the church on a later date.

“We decided that we needed to do something special for these wonderful dedicated needle workers so we came up with the idea of serving them a lunch while they are here working on their projects. It was decided that it would be a complimentary lunch, but donations would be accepted and the donations received one month would pay for the lunch the next month. The prayer shawl ministry is run totally on donations, we have not had to depend on the church to keep us going. Through the grace of God, donations come in when they are needed, some donations received are in the form of gift cards, checks and yarn,” she said.

Five years ago, “a miracle happened,” Champion said, as the Susquehanna Valley Big Twins Motorcycle Club joined the ministry and decided to help deliver the knitted items. It became their annual Knit’N’Run.

The Annual Knit’N’Run is now on the bikers calendar and will continue on each year during the first week in October, she said.

“Most all of the items that the ministry makes are distributed locally by the bikers. Area nursing homes, personal care homes, our local hospital receive our handmade items. The bikers don’t just drop these items off at the doors they actually go into each facility and visit with each person as they hadn them one of our handmade items. Sometimes they are even caught singing with them and enjoying a cookie or two. We do donate a lot to the Neo Nick unit of Geisinger Medical Center and the bikers go all the way to Danville. The Gateway House in Williamsport also receive blankets from our ministry and once again the bikers are more than willing to go the extra mile for us,” Champion said.

Anyone who wishes to be a part of the ministry is invited to stop in at Bald Eagle United Presbyterian Church on March 6, or the first Wednesday of the month.

The church is handicap accessible, but Champion says “if, for some reason, you can’t make the meetings, send your work into us. Everything will be used. We are in need of about 100 more prayer shawls which will be distributed this year so we are asking for additional help. Please consider being a part of this ministry.”

Questions may be addressed to Pastor Susan Champion, at 570-726-3254 or to call the church and leave a message, 570-726-4112.

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