Communications - Shawl Ministry-St. Thomas

"The Afghan and Shawl Ministry at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Palm Coast is a beautiful ministry," says The Reverend Dr. W. Frank Hull IV, the church's recently retired Priest.  "I have taken these shawls into hospitals and put them directly on patients shoulders.  Each patient's eyes light up and fill with tears when they receive the afghans or shawls."  I tell them, "This blanket is covering you as Christ would and we're praying for you. This is one aspect our church's popular prayer vigils."

St. Thomas Episcopal Church's Afghan and Shawl Ministry began in 2006 at the helm of congregation member Ms. Anahid Savio.  One of her friends saw this wonderful idea online of creating afghans and shawls for people who were in need - of warmth, prayers and blessings.  After hearing about this Afghan and Shawl Ministry, Ms. Savio says, "We all liked the idea very much.  We started out with 20 regular members with six members attending meetings regularly on the 2nd Tuesday of every month.  In addition, four other parishioners contribute afghans or shawls when needed, and two non-St. Thomas ladies do the same."

 What makes this ministry especially meaningful to this group is that they pray over each of the finished afghans and shawls and then a priest blesses the afghans and shawls.  The group also has created a customized card that is attached to each afghan and shawl with the initials of the person who made it printed on the card.  The afghans and shawls are gifted to those who are ill, lonely, or in need of comfort.  Their favorite Bible verses and prayers are included on the cards and there is a frog logo on the back of each card, which stands for "Fully Rely On God."

 Since this St. Thomas Episcopal Church group of ladies began this caring ministry:

  • 53 afghans have been donated to Habitat for Humanity. For a time, during dedication ceremonies, one of our afghans was presented to each family as they moved into their new home.
  • 50 afghans and quilts were sent to the Wounded Warriors organization when retreats were held at Camp Weed and the Cerveny Conference Center in 2014 and 2015.
  • 16 afghans were recently given to Clyde E. Lassen State Veterans Nursing Home in St. Augustine.
  • 30 afghans were given to Flagler Pines Nursing Home in Bunnell.
  • Six afghans were given to The Windsor Nursing Home, Palm Coast.
  • 13 afghans were given to the Family Life Center in Bunnell.  
  • Six afghans were given to Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute in Ormond Beach.  
  • 186 knitted preemie hats and 17 pairs of knitted booties have been given to babies at Wolfson Children's Hospital in Jacksonville with more to come.
  • In all, 537 knitted or crocheted prayer afghans and shawls have been made and approximately 500 have been distributed as of this writing.

 

The group feels special to be empowered by the church to provide this service to their community.  Now, moving forward into 2017, they plan to concentrate on making larger afghans for cancer patients to use while they are getting treatment at the Cancer Center, in the Florida Hospital in Flagler and Palm Coast.

"The rooms are so cold and we want to provide physical and emotional comfort for these patients. I've been active in our church for 32 years and I'm going strong, especially for an 89-year-old. The St. Thomas vestry and parishioners are so friendly and supportive," says program lead Ms. Savio.

Think about this. This Afghan and Shawl Ministry began when one congregation member saw a need in her community and found an idea of how to fill this need.  This group was further encouraged by the church to grow this ministry.  They're thankful to be able to provide comfort to people in need.

"This service has been such a blessing to our group as well as to the people we serve. There are all sorts of ministries yet to be discovered and offered to our community," shares Ms. Savio.

"The members in our congregation deliberately search for needed ministries for our surrounding areas. They use our outreach money for people in need who live in Flagler County. Our congregation members all have very giving attitudes. These successful notions of new ministries come from our church members, and they always respond to people's needs," says The Rev. Dr. Frank Hull. "The Afghan and Shawl Ministry is quite successful for all involved."