The Transylvania Times -

Crafters Create A Thousand Mantles Of Love


August 22, 2019

Prayer Shawl Crafters: (seated left to right) Nancy Booth, Shirley Booth, Brenda Whitcomb, Sharon Gallimore, Sally Rebscher and Marie Miller. (Standing) Amanda Rowe, Carol Hamann, Dianne Krause, Ginny White and Pat Garner. (Courtesy photos)

When life becomes difficult because of illness, bereavement or any one of the many crises that come along, victims often feel helpless and hopeless, while loved ones can scarcely think of what to say or do. In the midst of such suffering, a prayer shawl arrives to bring warmth, comfort and the assurance that someone else cares enough about them to create this beautiful mantle of love.

One of the ministries of Brevard's First United Methodist Church (FUMC) is that of crafting prayer shawls for anyone they know of who needs such encouragement and hope. Whether church members or not, recipients of prayer shawls learn that they are not alone because others are calling on God to hear their prayers and bring them healing or to rejoice with them over some of life's special events.

On Aug. 12, 2019, the FUMC Prayer Shawl Ministry members received and blessed their 1,000th prayer shawl. It was presented to Sarah Lee Myracle of the congregation's music department for her 45 years of service to the church. This summer, Myracle has been the organist at both the 8:30 a.m. and 10:55 a.m. worship services. In addition, she accompanies several choirs, leads Sunday school singing, heads the Beulah McMinn Zachary Organ Foundation, and has taught piano lessons.

The local prayer shawl ministry began on Jan. 14, 2008, as the result of the efforts of three women: Brenda Whitcomb, Ginny White and Rev. Kerry Purselle. Hoping to move the church's knitting group in a different direction, they recommended the prayer shawl concept, which had originated in 1998 with Janet Bristow and Victoria Galo of Connecticut.

No yarn is wasted. Remnants are used to make warm hats for the needy.

The FUMC group differs from many others because it contains knitters crocheters and a weaver. They meet from 9:45 to 11:15 a.m. on the second and fourth Mondays of each month (excluding holidays). The size of the group fluctuates between six and a dozen, and the crafters continue their work at home between sessions.

The sizes and shapes of the shawls vary, but the average is a 2-foot by 5-foot rectangle. Using between 600 and 800 yards of yarn, crafters take from 15 to 20 hours to complete each unit. Prayers of blessing are said for the completed shawls at the close of each session. Then, members or pastors deliver the precious mantles to their surprised recipients, who sometimes shed tears of joy over the treasured gifts.

Anyone wishing to join this group or start one of their own should call the church at (828) 883-9025 and leave a message for the Prayer Shawl Ministry.


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