The Prayer Shawl Group, founded and shepherded by Kathy Ramsaur, meets bimonthly and/or knit at home.
After a serious illness, Kathy herself received a handmade shawl from a church group. Its warmth and comfort, along with the inspiring note that accompanied it, helped strengthen her during a troubling time. She decided such a gift merited sharing with others going through fearful experiences. Started in 2007, the group had already grown to 25 before Kathy's death in 2009. The group continues to grow, inspired by Kathy's memory. They meet on the first and third Wednesday of the month in the Wilkinson Center to knit or crochet lap robes for men or shawls for women.
Each member brings her lunch, participates in a short prayer service, and then the knitting needles, crochet hooks, and yarn come out as they settle in for an hour of work and fellowship. Of course, between meetings, the robes and shawls are worked on at home. As any dedicated needle worker will tell you, it is a most relaxing, satisfying pastime, and additionally, for the members of the Prayer Shawl Group, they know they are providing a "comfort in crisis" gift for someone in need of the healing provided by the shawl or lap robe. One member shared a story from a neighbor who had received a lap robe from the group and was facing an extended recuperation. He told her that every afternoon when it was time for his doctor-ordered nap, he settled right down and fell asleep quickly because of his "blankie."
The clergy provide the reference for each recipient who, along with the shawl or lap robe, receives a personal note from the maker, which reads, in part, "This gift was crafted with prayers for your healing in body, mind, and spirit. As you use it, may you feel the warm embrace of the ultimate comforter and healer, our heavenly Father." Each gift is also blessed during a Sunday morning service.
The Prayer Shawl Group has made, blessed, and given over 300 gifts since they began in 2007. Some are given to people suffering illness or grief, but others are given as remembrances for farewells or special celebrations. The group shares their gifts not only with Hickory Neck members but with anyone who needs "wings" to take them above troubles.
The group extends a warm welcome to anyone regardless of skill level. Even if you have never knitted or crocheted, you can count on someone in the group to be your teacher and mentor, and soon you'll be wrapped in a group that offers gifts to "cradle the receiver in hope and grace them with peace."