James HowellStaff Writerjhowell@heartlandpublications.com
October 17, 2012
A group from West Jefferson United Methodist Church called the Prayer Shawl Ministry has placed its imprint on the community by making prayer shawls, blessing them and giving them to those in need.
“The ladies of the West Jefferson United Methodist Church Prayer Shawl Ministry have done an outstanding job of reaching folks near and far with the healing love of God,” said Dr. Pete Taylor, the pastor of West Jefferson United Methodist Church.
The Prayer Shawl Ministry was formed by Shirley Tarleton in 2008. The group now has 11 members, eight of which are active.
“When we meet we say a prayer and ask God to take away all our negative thoughts and feelings as we make these shawls. After they are made, we bless them by placing our hands on them and repeating a prayer. A label showing the shawl number and our information is attached to each one before it is presented,” said Tarleton.
According to Tarleton, the shawls are for sickness, sadness, tough times and when someone just needs comfort. Shawls are made for celebrations as well, for weddings, mothers-to-be and newborn babies.
Prayer Shawl Ministries have shipped shawls all over the United States and overseas. There is a great demand for them and we try to honor the wishes of anyone who requests a shawl, said Tarleton.
“We get a lot of heart-warming notes from people who have received a shawl. These are so special to us because we know that we have touched their lives in some way. We feel that we get more of a blessing from presenting the shawls that those who receive them,” said Tarleton.
One such anonymous note said the following: “Thank you for the beautiful prayer shawl. I felt the warmth of your love and compassion and it was truly overwhelming. What a blessed ministry.”
Tarleton also said the group makes “prayer squares,” which are about 4X4 inches, and has a prayer attached.
One of the group’s members had a granddaughter who was having surgery and the group sent her a shawl. “She and her little sister are very close,” said Tarleton, “so we gave the little one a prayer square. She takes it with her to kindergarten every day,” said Tarleton.
Prayer Shawl Ministries has also sent prayer squares to deployed military personnel and to college students who are leaving home for the first time.
According to Tarleton, Prayer Shawl Ministries has also helped the Creston United Methodist Church start their ministry. They have four small churches that get together to craft shawls and have completed over 100 in the past year.
The Prayer Shawl Ministry will soon celebrate the presentation of its 500th shawl. “We get many requests each week. The ministry is mostly spread by word of mouth,” said Tarleton.