Congregations knit shawls to benefit those in need

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Prayers come in more than just verbal form. Proof is in a group that wants to knit blessings into shawls they'll distribute to community members.

"It's a great way to use their talents for that purpose," pastor Melinda Bobo said. "It's a chance to pray together while you're working."

She preaches at St. Mark's Episcopal Church and Lutheran Church of Grace, and she will be crocheting her pieces. Organizers Penny Krump and Susie Aiken attend services at the church.

"It's quite the craze. Knitting's becoming popular everywhere again," said Krump, who took up the hobby a couple of months ago.

She thinks knitting is calming and a good social activity for people to share. It's also easy to pick up -- others at the meetings can help beginners.

Those who participate will say prayers for the recipients of the shawls as they knit and before they give them away.

A pair of women started the shawl ministry in Connecticut, and the idea has grown to congregations throughout the nation.

The founders have written a book, which contains patterns for shawls and prayers to be used when making them. Some recipients have even made shawls to pass on to others they think are deserving.

Krump said the shawls can be consoling or celebratory, for those struggling through an illness or a family with a new baby. The group may even work with local organizations to focus their efforts on a particular population.

They are meeting for the first time at 7 p.m. Thursday at the churches, 657 Green St., to decide when to meet on a monthly basis.

"Every congregation I've heard of that's started it, it's really taken off because it really catches people's hearts," Bobo said.

And she's hoping the same is true in Craig.

For more information on shawl ministry, visit www.shawlministry.com. To get involved, call the churches at 824-3470.

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