The Norman Transcript

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July 31, 2008

· Prayer Shawl Ministry begins at NorthHaven

Knitting and praying go hand in hand for the Prayer Shawl Ministry at NorthHaven Church.

Inside the conference room on a Monday night, about a dozen women ranging in age 16 to about 80 have gathered to knit shawls, blankets and maybe a scarf for a soul in need. The majority of women in the room hadn't ever picked up a knitting needle or known the steps to create a yarn chain until last month.

"Most of us are learning together," Sheri Ridenour said as she held a needle in each hand and concentrated on looping the yarn.

Sitting next to Ridenour is her 16-year-old daughter Rachael. The teenager said she was looking for something to do this summer, and found the ministry.

"It's really relaxing," she said.

The women aren't the only knitters in the family. Sheri's husband Randy joins the group on occasion. But he missed Monday's meeting.

"I think there are several men who are closet knitters or crocheters," Sheri Ridenour said.

According to the Prayer Shawl Ministry home page, Janet Bristow and Victoria Gala formed the ministry in 1998. Both graduated from the Women's Leadership Institute at the Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Conn.

Shawls are given to comfort the suffering and share with those celebrating either a marriage or birth of a child.

The Web site stated, "Many blessings are knitted into every shawl."

Jodi Lofton said the idea is to knit a shawl and pray for the recipient at the same time.

"You think about who you are going to give it to," Lofton said.

She said once the first round of shawls, blankets and scarves are finished, the congregation will hold a blessing ceremony before giving them away.

Paula Smalling said she learned to knit with McFarlin Memorial United Methodist Church's shawl ministry. She found friendship and conversation with the McFarlin ministry and also at NorthHaven.

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