CEDAR KEY – On any given week, there are 100 or so names on the prayer list at Cedar Key UMC, a small church founded on an island along north central Florida’s Gulf Coast in the 1800s.
“Each week, we have a woman who types up and runs off our prayer list and when we get together as a prayer circle, one of us reads down the list of names. And if somebody has an update to give, we will talk about that,” said Marty Clark, a prayer circle member.
“When we get good news, we’re thinking: ‘You know what? God was paying attention,’” Clark said.
Every week, some names are added and others drop off, with requests reflecting the ebb and flow of life. There are those who are ill and others facing a difficult test. Some are nervous about a new job. Others are battling financial struggles.
When someone dies, the prayer circle adds the deceased person’s family to their list for a couple of weeks, to help them cope with their loss.
In addition to its prayer circle, the church also has an angel ministry, Clark said.
“That started in March of 2007,” she said, noting the minister’s wife at that time came up with the idea.
Initially, the angels were made from tiny flowerpots, said Clark, who was not involved in making them. There were prayers for such things as travel, healing, marriage and new babies, she said.
“Then, in 2010, the son of this same minister, who was in the Marines, was being deployed,” Clark said. “His mother felt the need to have something sent with him, so he would always know that we were praying for him.
“She came up with a little pattern for soft angels – cloth, with a little bit of stuffing in them. Small enough that he’d be able to put it in the pocket of a uniform and take it with him.
“That whole thing took off, and people have been donating their uniforms to us.
"So every military angel is made out of the uniform of someone who has been in combat and has come home safely because that’s our prayer for them.
“On the inside of the wing, there is always printed a Bible verse. On the back of the wings of the military angels, it gives the name and the rank of the person whose uniform it is and where this uniform came from,” she said.
She has sewn military uniforms that have been in such places as Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. She’s worked with uniforms that have been worn by personnel in the Army, Air Force and Marines.
A few years ago, somebody thought it would be a good idea to make the angels for children. Later on, someone suggested angels for adults.
The angels are about 3 inches tall, Clark said.
They’ve been sent all over the world, and have provided comfort in all sorts of circumstances, she said.
“We knew of one soft angel that went through an MRI tube with someone,” Clark said.
Another angel story involves a woman having a double knee replacement.
“When she went for the operation, she was holding that angel, so the surgeon taped it to her hand during surgery,” Clark said.
“We don’t charge anyone for the angel, but we never run out of money,” she said.
People requesting angels often make a free will offering.
Most angel requests come from church members or visitors, who write the request on the back of a prayer request card at the church.
But the church accepts requests from anyone, Clark said. “We’ve sent out over 1,000 now,” she said. “They have taken wing, I’ll tell you that.”
– B.C. Manion is a freelance writer based in Tampa.
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