How to begin a Prayer Shawl Ministry

by Janet Bristow & Victoria Cole-Galo




If you belong to a faith community, find out if the ministry could be introduced there. If you will be bringing this to the community in which you live, find a space that could accommodate your needs, such as library, community center, senior center, continuing adult education. Itís helpful to have a core group of a few interested people to discuss how you envision the ministry. It is important to have a person willing to coordinate and administer the details of this ministry.

Place an ad in your church bulletin, newsletter, local newspaper, community center, library, senior center, continuing adult education office brochures or publications. Make a flyer and/or sign-up sheet to post on bulletin boards at the above locations. Itís helpful to have a shawl on display at your faith community. We suggest using the down-loadable brochure as a handout to those interested in joining your group. In it, you can list your pertinent information such as: location, dates, times and contact information.

Decide if you will meet weekly, semi-monthly, or monthly in the mornings, evenings or both. At your first meeting, discuss who the recipients will be. Will you be offering the shawls to the members of your faith community, local hospital, hospice, shelter, charity? Get suggestions from clergy, pastoral care team, social worker, parish nurse, members of your community. Sometimes you will know who the shawl is for; sometimes you wonít. Itís good to have a number of shawls on hand, available to staff and those who might be visiting someone in the hospital, nursing home, or at home. If youíll be supplying shawls to a shelter, hospital, or oncology center on a regular basis, inquire about the number of shawls that would be required. Decide if you will be able to meet those needs.

Discuss fund raising issues. Where will the money come from? You can ask for donations from your faith community and/or accept donations from those who offer. How will the yarn be purchased? Who will supply it, buy it, and keep it stocked? How will the shawls be packaged and who will do that? Where will the finished ones be kept? Who will deliver them to the outside group, shelter, etc.?

As this is a prayerful process, remember to begin each gathering, planning meeting, or ministry circle with some type of ritual, prayer or blessing. Encourage participants to write their own prayer; or write a group prayer that will be included with each shawl given.

As you gather together and share thoughts and insights, it will become clearer what direction your particular group will take. Donít worry about who the shawls will go to! Theyíll come to you with ease. Best of all, notice the blessings that flow between the knitter and recipient, around your faith community, your circle, and your lives.


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