For more than 25 years, the Busy Needles ministry at North Naples United Methodist Church has blessed hundreds of people with handmade shawls. The gift is a reminder that God is watching over them, and that others care.
Every week, Pastor Silvana Ferreira chooses those who need an extra something to help during an illness, a tough emotional time, or another personal difficulty.
She is not the artist behind the colorful, handmade prayer shawls she will give to those who need that extra boost, but she sees the comfort and joy they bring to the recipients.
The group meets each Wednesday to fellowship, knit, and crochet for others, each artist choosing their design and color scheme. And each time a batch of shawls is complete, Pastor Silvana meets with the group to perform a liturgy and pray over the finished product. “When I started working here, I was so impressed by this group and how much potential they had for good,” she said. “Anyone in need gets a shawl.”
|The Busy Needles at North Naples UMC has knitted prayer shawls for 25 years|
Busy Needles was originally a quilting group. “Over the years, it has evolved into a prayer shawl ministry. What we do is just sit and do our work, and there’s a lot of conversation. It’s a small group, and we occasionally lose members who move away, but it is a very active group. There are times when we feel the need for God’s comforting presence,” ministry leader Joyce Heim said.
The shawls seem to bring that connection.
Heim put together a little description of the group for a church newsletter.
"There are times when we feel the need of God's comforting presence as we work through worry, stress, sorrow, and pain,” she wrote. “At those times, it is comforting to know that someone cares about us as we work through the difficulties."
Those are the thoughts of the women as they pray and stitch.
“They may not even know the one who will receive their shawl, but the yarn is a link of warmth and love,” Heim wrote. “When several shawls are completed, Pastor Silvana comes to bless them and take them for presentation with a personal touch. Words of love and support from the church are given uniting all within God's encircling love.
“The members all support each other. Laughter, tears, and videos of loved ones intermingle with patterns, instructions, and tips.”
Often, the shawl recipients get one in their favorite color. They are always amazed that someone knew, even if it was just a good guess.
“Sometimes, they cry, and they say, ‘I never thought someone would make something so beautiful for me,’ Sometimes shut-ins say they use them every day to remind them that someone at the church cares for them,” Pastor Silvani said.
“We pray to God to give us direction, to determine the person that needs one most.”
--Yvette C. Hammett is a freelance writer in Valrico.