by Michael J. Metts
A small group of women in the hills of southwestern Pennsylvania demonstrates the power of prayer by making prayer shawls for people who are sick or in need of encouragement.
Three years ago, after hearing about similar ministries at other churches, Sherene Eckenrode encouraged the ladies of Cove Run FMC in Lemont Furnace, Pa., to make prayer shawls. Since then, the church has delivered more than 400 shawls to people around the world.
Cove Run member Judy Hanna feels blessed to be able to help so many people.
“We’ve gotten a lot of responses from people who have told us how much comfort they have gotten from them,” Hanna said.
The women make 10 to 25 prayer shawls each month, praying over the shawls as they work. On the last Sunday of the month, the entire congregation prays over and anoints the shawls before they are sent out. Every shawl includes a card explaining how the church prays for each recipient.
“We’ve had people that have been told that they would never be healed, and they have been healed,” Hanna said. “It’s nothing to do with the prayer shawl. It’s the prayer that goes behind it.”
Some people mistakenly think the shawls contain some kind of power. The church uses these opportunities to educate recipients about the power of prayer.
“The power is from God,” church secretary Betty Nicklow said. “That’s where the healing is from.”
The church looks for any opportunity to give a shawl to someone in need. Recipients could be down the street or on the other side of the world.
“We have sent them to our soldiers in Afghanistan, Iraq — just different places all around the world and all over the United States,” Hanna said.
Because many of the recipients correspond with the church, the church family has opportunities to see prayer working in people’s lives.
“It’s just a blessing to us to hear the good news that comes back about each prayer shawl that’s sent out and the many cards we’ve received,” Hanna said.
In addition to prayer, church members have other opportunities to be involved in the ministry.
“There are just so many aspects of it,” Cove Run member Laureen Livingston said. “We have the people who crochet, the people who donate the yarn, the people who donate the money for the yarn and then we also have women that actually deliver them into the homes.”
“We get cards almost every Sunday from somebody saying how much the prayer shawl meant to them or their family,” Livingston said.
As encouraging as the ministry is to others, it’s also a great encouragement to the church.
“It makes us feel just as good as the person that’s getting the shawl,” Livingston said. “It’s a blessing for us.”