“May this shawl wrap you in God’s love,
Cocoon you in God’s peace,
And comfort you as you draw near God in prayer.”
These words can be found in a card accompanying a hand-made prayer shawl created by the ladies of the Pleasant View United Methodist Church Prayer Shawl Ministry. The shawls, designed to bring comfort, joy, and peace to those in need, are beautiful in color, design, and message.
The hands that make them are driven with divine purpose to positively touch the lives of each and every recipient.
While the prayer shawls are distributed for sickness, loneliness, grief, and other trying times in life, they are also meant for joyous occasions like weddings, births, and for those going off to college.
The group, made up of right around 13 dedicated and serious crafters, was established in April of 2009 and has been touching lives- including their own- ever since. Alongside founder and group leader, Bonnie Cooper, the women of the ministry come together two days a week - Tuesday’s at Pleasant View United Methodist Church (PVUMC) and on Thursdays, Bonnie invites them all into her home.
On top of the weekly group meetings, the ladies work on their projects while at home too.
“As you can tell, we take this pretty seriously,” Cooper says as she explains their schedule and detailed system of operations.
In addition to the shawls, the team makes chemo caps, newborn caps, and even mats for the homeless- a project largely made possibly by Dollar General Market in Pleasant View.
As far as determining who is on the receiving end of their hard work, one of the ladies says that they “do not ever have to look very hard for someone in need.” Word of mouth, prayer requests, phone calls to the church, and just simply being able to recognize someone who could benefit, are all ways the ladies are called to brighten lives.
When they see a need, their giving spirits have no boundaries.
Last year alone, at least 40 people were blessed with a shawl. Some of the recipients were right here in Cheatham County, and others have been as far as California, they say.
Coming to the area from Illinois where she was involved in something similar, Cooper was initially hesitant to propose the idea at her new church in Pleasant View. Her passion for the project soon got the best of her, and she was overjoyed with the support she received.
In addition to Cooper, the group, ranging in age from 18 to 89, is made up of: Tracy Stout, Carol Lee, Lisa Burrows, Estelle Eidson, Adrienne Bennett, Kathryn Howell, Jennifer Holder Hurt, Betty Holder, Mary Montgomery, Trina Chance, Connie Zumbrunnen, Audrey Warfield, and Rebecca McDaniel.
Each of the ladies has their own area of expertise; some knit, others crochet, and Zumbrunnen, for example, has a specialty in fleece. And while they do spend a great deal of time making the shawls and other items, the ladies say that anyone is welcome to join their group- regardless of their ability to even make a shawl- because at the heart of it all is unmatchable fellowship.
Fully standing behind the ministry is Brother Paul Edwards, the church’s pastor. He has seen over and over again just how much the shawls mean to their recipients. “They truly make a difference,” he says. “People hang on to the comfort they bring.”
Having the ability to touch the lives of both strangers and loved ones alike, has enhanced the lives of each and every woman in the ministry. The camaraderie, the fellowship, the sense of purpose, and of course, the fun, is something that helps define who they are- awesome!
And they are always open to having others join them on their mission to bring comfort and love to people when they need it most.
Anyone who feels they could benefit from a shawl or those interested in giving the Prayer Shawl Ministry a try, are encouraged to contact PVUMC at (615) 746-3737.