Commerce church group<BR> generating warmth

Commerce, TX –

Young patients at Children's Medical Center in Dallas are enjoying comfort and warmth thanks to the talents of 19 women from the First United Methodist Church in Commerce.

As of early July, the group has provided 547 knit caps for use in the pediatric intensive care unit, the neonatal unit and the cancer and transplant units of the medical center. The children, including young chemo patients, get to pick their own caps.

The women's creative efforts also include shawls, lap robes, and baby blankets. The shawls and lap robes are made for the church pastors and Stephen Ministers (a group of lay counselors) to use when visiting members of the church and community who are in need of comfort after a medical procedure, a loss, during bereavement, or during illness and recovery. Baby blankets have also been presented to each baby at his or her baptism.

The project started as a prayer-shawl ministry in 1998, led by Janet Bristow and Victoria Galo of the Women's Leadership Institute at the Hartford Seminary in Connecticut. It has become an international and interdenominational ministry of thousands of women of faith.

A member of the Commerce FUMC knitting group, Anna Blohm, says the women often receive thanks for their work. "One receiver said, 'My shawl is beautiful and when I wear it I can feel your love and prayers.' Another told us, 'I know this shawl has been good for my attitude toward my illness.' And simply, 'Thank you for the loving thoughts and prayers the shawl represents.'"

"There are endless possibilities to this ministry, including a sense of community and fellowship among the members of the group while being creative," Mrs. Blohm says. "The blessing of each item ripples from person to person, with the giver and the recipient feeling the unconditional love of a sheltering and nurturing God."

Two other churches have asked the First United Methodist Church of Commerce group to help them kickoff a prayer shawl ministry later this summer. Open to all women of faith, the group meets on the third Monday of each month in the Friendship Room of the First United Methodist Church in Commerce. For more information to become a part of this ministry, contact any leader (Janet Latham 903-886-7156, Mary Smith 903-886-7431, or Anna Blohm 903-886-3041) of call the church office at 903-886-3220.