Each month, a group of women from The Grace Brethren Church of Calvert County, Owings, Md. (Dario Agnolutto, lead pastor), gather and spend time in prayer. But their hearts are guided by their hands; they pray as they knit and crochet blankets and hats for people in need.
“The Prayer Shawl Ministry started in February 2007 at our annual church ministry fair,” explains Claudia Benjaminson, director of Grace Comforts. Janice Owen, a member of Grace Brethren Calvert, brought the idea with her from her winter home church, First Baptist Church of Naples, Fla.
“This church had an active Prayer Shawl Ministry already in service,” Benjaminson continues. “After attending several meetings, Janice decided to bring the idea to Grace.”
Claudia joined the ministry a year later and shortly thereafter Jan asked her to fill the assistant director role. In 2014, the role of director passed to her. “[Janice] still remains as our founder and my number one mentor,” Claudia notes.
The group started with about 13 ladies who met to pray and crochet baby blankets for new babies at the church, as well as shawls and blankets for church family members recovering from surgeries or with illnesses. They also made hats for chemo patients, and hats and scarves for the homeless housed at Grace Brethren Calvert during their Winter Safe Nights Program.
The ministry has expanded over the years, now hosting anywhere between 8-15 women on a monthly basis. The ministry has also added a monthly “quilt-in,” (a collective effort to make blankets for all of the church’s high school graduates), hat donations to the church’s Operation Christmas Child collection, and gifts for children at an orphanage in Odessa, Ukraine. Each knitted, crocheted, or quilted gift comes with a New Testament and a gift card with a prayer printed on it.
Claudia explains, “Prayer has been and still is a significant aspect of the fruits of our service. From the beginning, all ladies are encouraged to pray while making a garment. We also pray at our meetings for those who are sick, for the hands that do the work, and for needs to be met.”
Benjaminson says she has seen God at work through the prayers and gifts these women have offered. “The ministry is blessing people,” she notes. “We often get wonderful thank you notes expressing how comforted they are with their blanket. Many recipients ask us how we knew their favorite colors or the colors of their room.”
As of this date, the “Grace Comforts Prayer Blanket Ministry” (now dubbed “Grace Comforts”) has given out 747 gifts of either shawls, blankets, or lap quilts to comfort people in need, new babies, and high school graduates. They have also provided more than 300 hats to Operation Christmas Child and to the homeless.
“We are trusting the Lord with what He will have us do in the future. We know that God has given us the ability to make beautiful things for Him. We know that this is one of our purposes in life and that God will enable us to fulfill this purpose for as long as He chooses.”
This story first appeared in GraceConnect eNews. To subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter that includes news and information from congregations in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, click here.