MEMBER AND FRIENDS STORIES

Alison's story

THE PRAYER SHAWL MINISTRY - WORCESTER DIOCESE

The prayer shawl ministry started in our diocese in November 2004.

I had been asked by our branch leader if I could attend a council meeting in Bromsgrove as she was unable to go because her elderly mother was unwell.

I felt drawn to the pretty shawls that were being displayed on a table, I wondered what they were for? as the meeting unfolded our President explained that the shawls were prayer shawls so called because they had been made with love and prayers for those who may receive them.

the shawls had been blessed by vicars locally to the parishes where they had been made and were ready to be given with love and prayers to anyone who had need of healing prayers for whatever reason.

I first thought of the mother of our branch leader Afterall that is why I had gone to the meeting, if she hadn’t had been poorly, I would not have been there.

I also knew of 2 other people, one was a lady who attended our old family church in Wolverhampton, she had fallen in the church cloak room and as a result she had broken her hip, so of course she had to have surgery.

there was also the husband of my ex Sunday school teacher, I had just heard that he was suffering from cancer caused by working with asbestos as a young man.

during the break I decided to ask about the prayer shawls, I wanted to know how much they were and if I could have more than one and if I was allowed to send them outside Worcester diocese??

I was delighted to hear that there was no charge I was advised that as I knew 3 people who were in need of our prayers and I was invited to take 3 shawls as well as 3 beautifully made prayer cards which were also free of charge.

I was told that the shawls were  be sent to anyone, anywhere, where ever they had to go to whom ever had need of healing prayers for any reason, so I selected 3, a purple one for our branch leaders mother, a blue one for the husband of my ex Sunday school teacher and a pink one for the elderly lady who had fallen in the ladies cloak room at my old church where my mother still worshipped at that time.

six months later was at another council meeting in hagley, once again there was a selection of wonderful brightly coloured prayer shawls neatly displayed, I was drawn to them again, as there were a few more people I knew were unwell, so I asked if I might take some more shawls? I think I chose about another 3 or so.

I passed all of them on, each with a letter. I don’t think I’m a particularly talented person but I can write quite a nice letter.

by November 2005 I was a new acting branch leader my father-in-law was unwell, I had been trying to get hold of a prayer shawl for him at every diocesan event since July, but there had been none available. our diocesan president was very sorry, she said she would get one to me, which she did in time for Christmas, which was wonderful, but by then dad Russon had died, our president was very upset, so I asked if I might have the shawl for my uncle who had cancer. my aunt kept it on her bed after his death until she died. I discovered at my uncle’s funeral that my great aunt had been a mothers’ union member, I had not known that but it made my day, when my cousin said,” you wearing that badge reminds me of my grandmother”. I remembered great aunt Madge, I was thrilled to pieces,

the following January I was asked by our president if I would consider becoming the official prayer shawl distributer for the diocese? my name had been put forward because I had embraced the prayer shawl ministry, it had been noticed that I can write a good letter and as I had been let down by the mothers’ union (their words not mine), I would be unlikely to let this happen to anyone else.

the shawls are made in a wide variety of colours, shapes, sizes, weights and textures, so hopefully I have one to suit everybody. they are sent to me from all over the diocese, just as requests for shawls come from most areas of Worcester.  some branches like to send the shawls themselves which is fine, but I like to know where they go, so that I can assure the recipient (s) of my own thoughts and prayers together with those of the mothers’ union with all of our love.

I ask quite a few questions about the proposed recipient, as I like to make the letter I write as personal as possible, it also gives me an idea of the person that I am praying for. I pray for each recipient for god to bless them according to their needs and I trust in the holy spirit to help me select the right shawl for each person, I hold them in prayer for at least 6 months because many people take time to heal fully.

as the shawls are made with love and prayers it is hoped and indeed prayed that the shawls may bring warmth and comfort on a physical level in addition to warmth and blessing from the prayers in which they are enfolded.

I feel honoured and truly blessed to be allowed to look after the shawls and to take them, where possible to those in need , I take god’s love out on behalf of the mothers’ union, but I also feel that I am being blessed by the love of the people I have the privilege of meeting .

I am now training to become a diocesan mothers’ union speaker with the prayer shawl as my subject as I want more people to know about the prayer shawl ministry as well as the work that I do as a mothers’ union prayer shawl distributer.  I go to visit branches to talk about the shawls together with the love of god for us and for each other and again I walk away feeling blessed by the holy spirit from meeting with such wonderful people in Jesus name……. 

Alison Russon