The participants of an outreach ministry at Ladysmith: Faith UMC called “In the Loop” are busily knitting and crocheting prayer shawls, pocket prayer shawls and twiddle muffs for seniors. It is part of the church’s Caring Ministry, which also includes efforts to help in the areas of nursing homes, domestic violence, visitation/homebound, military/veterans, recovery/support groups and counseling. The outreach group is donating the many shawls and muffs they make to Ladysmith Nursing Home on E. 11th Street N. Ladysmith Nursing Home Administrator Cheryl Kelley is pleased the shawls and muffs are available for residents. “We have residents throughout the county who enjoy them,” she said.

Made for centuries, prayer shawls are universal and embracing, symbolic of an inclusive, unconditionally loving God. The pocket prayer shawls are the same, just smaller. Twiddle muffs are special hand muffs to help elderly nursing home residents and others living with dementia. Compassion and the love of knitting and crocheting have been combined into a prayerful ministry and spiritual practice which reaches out to those in need of comfort and solace, as well as in celebration and joy. Many blessings are prayed into every stitch.

Faith United Methodist Church Pastor Vicky Strupp said she is surprised by the effort. “This outreach is becoming bigger than we expected and much more quickly than we expected,” she said. The intentions are continued throughout the creation of the shawl. Upon completion, a final blessing is offered before the shawl is sent on its way. Some recipients have continued the kindness by making a shawl and passing it on to someone in need. Thus, the blessing ripples from person-to-person, with both the giver and receiver feeling the unconditional embrace of a sheltering, mothering God.

In the Loop has been meeting for six months, and it is always looking for donations of yarn and new members. It meets on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. at Faith United Methodist Church, and the public is welcome to participate.