The Oldtown Prayer Shawl Ministry provides hand-knitted prayer shawls to those needing comfort and prayer. Our ministry was started in 2008, but the idea of a Prayer Shawl Ministry dates back further than that.
In 1998, Janet Bristow and Victoria Galo, two 1997 Women’s Leadership Institute graduates at The Hartford Seminary in Hartford, CT, began the ministry.
Shawls are usually knitted but can also be crocheted, quilted, woven, or machine knitted, with many blessings prayed into every shawl as it takes shape. Then, filled with comfort and solace, a congregation can pray over the shawl and send those prayers along with the shawl to a family in need of such.
The knitter begins each shawl with prayers for the person receiving it, even though the recipient may not be known at the time. The intentions continue, and when completed, the shawl may be blessed before being sent on its way.
Sometimes, the recipient continues the process by making a prayer shawl themselves and passing it along. Thus, the blessing is rippled from person to person, with both feeling the unconditional embrace of a sheltering, loving God.
More information on prayer shawl ministry in general and all types of patterns may be found on the official website of the Shawl Ministry – www.shawlministry.com. Many of the patterns are based on the number three, which can represent the Holy Trinity or other beliefs in other traditions. The Shawl Ministry website also explains the meaning of the different colors used.
In 2008, a workshop was held at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Attleboro, with about forty women from various area churches attending. Christine Pandozzi, Sunday School Superintendent at Oldtown at the time, attended the workshop and was excited to begin the ministry here in Oldtown. She named the movement “Comfort and Joy.” Church members worked together, with Dave Fontaine designing the steeple label and Marcia Brinson printing them on fabric. The idea of attaching three trinkets to the shawls represented the Holy Trinity, and if Christine knew the person who was to receive the shawl, she could choose interesting trinkets for them. A cross was always included if the shawl was going to a church member. The church records include all recipients of our prayer shawls and the names of those who made the shawl.
Our shawls are sent out in a nice handmade pillow cover or one of our Oldtown tote bags. Before a prayer shawl is delivered, it is passed around the congregation during a Sunday service, and each person is encouraged to say a quick, silent prayer over it. In this way, the thoughts and prayers of our entire congregation are conveyed to the recipient of the shawl. A note from our Prayer Shawl Ministry with an explanation of the prayer shawl and a copy of a prayer written by Sandy Mann from Immanuel Lutheran Church accompany each prayer shawl we deliver.
Email our prayer shawl ministry for more information or to volunteer to help.