Touching Lives Through ‘Prayer and Knitting’

Post a Comment » Written on December 8th, 2004     
Filed under: News
By Craig Pinley

NORTH EASTON, MA (December 8, 2004)  – Prayer and knitting are part of many  Covenant churches, but the combination through the work of Covenant  Congregational Church has provided a special touch that has been noticed  by many area families.

The church and its parishioners have made and delivered 85 shawls to  family, friends and acquaintances, bringing comfort, love and care, according to church  staff. It is one of many works being done through Covenant Health  Ministry, a service arm of the church.

“If it was a ministry that was up to (associate pastor) Johnny Agurkis  and me to get started, it wouldn’t have,” said pastor Mark Pattie. “It’s  been a wonderful example of everybody being a minister in their church,  with people using the gifts God gave them to do things others wouldn’t  have dreamed of. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve heard from that have told me that they sleep with their prayer shawl or that someone had  it as part of their ministry.”

Lyn Carroll, a parishioner, is currently organizing the prayer shawl  work through Covenant Health Ministry, which has been coordinated by  Armenie Varadian. An aunt had a brain tumor and Carroll wanted to  minister to her – she found on the Internet and  discovered a ministry that she thought she could ultimately bring to her  church.

Individuals knit shawls and bring them to the church. Often the  individual will send a card with the shawl or bring the shawl to the one  who is suffering. An angel pattern that she found has helped her in  creating a dish towel that gives them a tangible reminder that God’s  angels are with them.

Carroll – a stay-at-home mom who also helps new mothers as a volunteer  breastfeeding educator – has heard how parishioners have been ministered  to by the ministry. An acquaintance told Carroll about how a person was  so affected by the prayer shawl that when the person died, they had the  shawl buried with them.

She described how a family member’s illness two years ago became the  catalyst for the ministry at Covenant Congregational. “Since my aunt was  down in Ocala, Florida, I couldn’t hand deliver it, but my folks were  there and delivered the shawl to her,” Carroll recalled. “The day before  she went into the hospital, she told my mother that she wanted to have  the shawl with her when she went into surgery. About two hours after  recovery, she had the shawl wrapped around her, explaining to nurses  about the meaning of the shawl. They (the hospital staff) later found  that my aunt’s sight would be restored after they removed the tumor. Mom  says that she still keeps the shawl close – and that’s a year and a half  later.

“I don’t know who’s getting more out of this, me or the ones I help,”  Carroll continued. “We have five or six people involved and we’re amazed  by what people write in cards they send us and what we are told. It’s  incredible.”

Covenant Health Ministry has run a number of other programs both inside  and outside the church during the past four years, even coordinating a  health ministry hour after church for people inquiring about various  services. The ministry offers weekly blood pressure tests free of charge and sends monthly cards and care packages to  college students affiliated with the congregation. Those volunteers via  “Covenant Campus Notes” also pray regularly for the students.

“The idea (of parish nursing) intrigued me,” said Varadian, who had  served as admissions director for a health and rehabilitation center.  “But in going to networking groups, I got a lot of encouragement. The  key was in taking baby steps in ministry. I put out a notice that a  group was starting to form and before I knew, there were a dozen people  who were from the health profession (in the church) looking for a way to  give of themselves.”

Pattie also mentioned a “Boo Boo Bunny” ministry whereby parishioners  bring new mothers a handmade item and information after they arrive home  from the hospital. The myriad ways of caring for the congregation of 340  has been an ongoing source of joy for the senior pastor of 11 years.

“It’s one little step at a time,” said Pattie about the many volunteer  hours given through Covenant Health Ministry. “But there are a lot of  people that have been ministered to by this group and it has meant a  lot. We’ve got people throughout our congregation that have had their  lives transformed by Covenant Health Ministry. I’m also amazed at the  amount of fun they’re having in doing this.”

To learn more about Covenant Health Ministry at Covenant Congregational  Church, call Armenie Varadian at 781-762-0029. To learn more about the  prayer shawl ministry, call Carroll at 508-238-0861 or email her at

Copyright © 2011 The Evangelical Covenant Church.

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