ALCOA, Tenn. (May 25, 2015) -- The Board of Laity asked for 1,500 "pocket prayer shawls" to distribute to members of the Annual Conference -- to remind them of prayers being said for them during the upcoming June 7-11 meeting in western North Carolina.
All over Holston, church members bent their heads over busy hands and crocheted, knitted or sewed miniature shawl after shawl, filling up boxes and bags with their handiwork and sending them to their district offices.
When the district superintendents had ferried all the prayer shawls to the Alcoa Conference Center, Lay Leader Del Holley began to count. And count. And count.
In all, Holley announced, Holston members had created and sent 10,000 pocket prayer shawls.
10,000? Did you say 10,000?
"I want to invite you to pause for a moment when you receive this message and breathe a prayer of thanksgiving to God for the good work the churches of Holston Conference have done to support the prayer ministry of this year's Annual Conference session," Holley told the Cabinet and Board of Laity in an email.
Holley and others immediately began to dream of how to show off and share the thousands of extra prayer shawls. The Annual Conference can expect to see piles of the pocket shawls in Lake Junaluska, N.C., at registration, in Stuart Auditorium, in the Terrace lobby, and in the Harrell exhibit area.
"We're thinking of ways to share the shawls with families of retired and deceased clergy," Holley said. "We will invite Annual Conference members to take some of these shawls back to their congregations and ask, 'How do these pockets shawls inspire us to be in prayer and ministry with our communities?'"
The pocket prayer shawls will also likely be sent out with mission teams and with General Conference delegates in spring 2016, Holley said.
Martha McFarland said that her eight-member "Knit-Wits" group at Broadway United Methodist Church in Maryville, Tenn., created and contributed 167 pocket shawls.
"To me, that is one big way of taking seriously how much these busy fingers cared, not just at Annual Conference and for the ministry of all those attending, but now beyond the bounds of Holston," McFarland said. "Don't discard a single one of those pocket prayer shawls, because each stitch is a prayer."
For more about a prayer initiative at Annual Conference (and an invitation to join a prayer team), visit AC.Holston.org.
'Pocket shawls' remind Cabinet of prayers lifted by church members (The Call, 3/17/15)
Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newspaper.