Thank you to everyone who supported the Let Us Sew Love prayer pocket project, co-sponsored by the Prayer Shawl Ministry and the Women’s Prayer Circle. Your donations to the loose change offering collected during the children’s sermon on September 20 by the Outreach Board raised almost $500. Many people generously contributed time and materials to create almost 1000 knitted, crocheted, and sewn pockets and participated in workshops to finish them and attach crosses. These prayer pockets have been blessed and will be sent to the Southern churches destroyed by fire in the days following the shootings at Emanuel AME Church this summer. (See the July and September issues of Chanticleer for more information.) Each pocket will contain a prayer and a message from our church. Royce Hoggard has donated the costs for printing, crosses, and postage, so that all funds from the loose change offering can go to the United Church of Christ “Burned Churches, 2015” Emergency USA Fund. Under the UCC Southeast Conference, needs and projects for long term recovery and rebuilding in the wake of these acts of arson and suspicious fires are being identified and supported. More information about specific plans will be available on the national UCC website. We appreciate your loving support through your prayers, time, and donations. This has allowed our local church to show our concern and compassion for the congregations suffering from these adversities and our solidarity with the struggles against racism and hate crimes.
Intent of “Let Us Sow Love” Initiative
In his sermon for Sunday, June 21, Pastor Phil paid tribute to the individual victims of the hate-motivated murders at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston South Carolina on June 17. He also emphasized the loving and forgiving response of their family and friends and the Emanuel congregation as a whole including towards the young man responsible for this terrorist act. An initiative in our church, to show our sorrow, solidarity, and gratitude for the people of Emanuel who are demonstrating a model for the whole country in the midst of their deep suffering to reverse the tide of hate by responding with Christian love has continued to evolve. With support from the Outreach Board, the Prayer Pocket Ministry, and the Women’s Prayer Circle, plans for specific projects have been developed for the next few months.
- To join our initiative, “Let Us Sow Love,” you need only offer prayers for all of those affected by the tragedy at Emanuel AME and for an end to hate and racism as arrowswift prayers throughout the day.
- For deeper meditation, include the Prayer of St. Francis during your reflective time:
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved, as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.
- As a practical response, commit to a conscious act of love in place of a negative response every day.
- Donations from our church members and friends are also being sought for Prayer Pockets to send to the people of Emanuel AME. These pockets can be sown, quilted, knitted, or crocheted and will contain a prayer that will l show our love and solidarity as a church response. The only guidelines are that the finished piece needs to be small enough to fit in a pocket, purse, or even a wallet with a pocket large to hold a business – sized prayer card. A basket with basic instructions will be in the church lounge, or youcan contact Maggie Hoggard at email@example.com for pattern ideas. Samples and collection baskets will be placed at the back of the church and in the Bess Fulton Room beginning July 1st. We are well underway towards the goal of 1,000. So far, 350 knitted, crocheted, and sewn prayer pockets have been collected, and another 150 just need to have crosses added. These pockets will carry a message to the congregations of Southern churches destroyed by fire identified by the national Rebuild the Churches campaign.
- (More information about the campaign is available at this link:https://cccathedralstl.dntly.com/campaign/2571#/ )
- The next Pocket Prayer Workshop will be announced; your help is always needed and you can work on projects at home. Workers are needed to make and finish prayer pockets (if you can sew on a button, we can use your help) and also to prepare the messages and place them in the pockets.
- The project to honor “Mother” Emanuel Church includes completing nine quilted wall hangings, one for each victim’s family, a larger wall hanging for the larger church, and a quilted prayer shawl for the interim pastor, the Rev. Dr. Norvel Goff. These quilt projects will be ongoing until Thanksgiving. At that time, they will be blessed and sent with our greetings and gratitude to the Mother Emanuel to mark its bicentennial in 2016 and to honor extraordinary efforts to uphold American rights and freedoms in the face of adversity. About 80 five inch, nine-patch blocks have been completed so far. If you would like to work on designing and assembling this project, contact Maggie Hoggard at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Two additional prayer pocket “Let Us Sow Love” initiatives have been proposed: one for our own congregation and one for victims of the shootings in two military centers in Chattanooga, Tennessee on July 16. As well, ideas for community events that would support the ideas expressed in the Peace Prayer of St. Francis are being considered, for example bringing in speakers or sponsoring a writing or arts contest for young people.
- We can also look for opportunities as individuals to combat racism and intolerance in the wider community. For example, on August 6, Pastor Tom and I performed a spoken word piece called “Ojibway Healer” with Brandon McCoy at the first Open Mic, sponsored by Windwalker Antiques and Underground Galleries. Brandon, the host, was presented with a prayer shawl by Pastor Tom with blessings from our congregation for his venture. This initiative can also be supported simply by praying the Peace Prayer as part of a daily or weekly meditation and performing individual acts of loving kindness.
In standing up to hatred by showing love, we become affirming flames, and our individual
“points of light,” as the poet W. H. Auden describes them, combine together to conquer the
darkness and evil in our world.
May you feel the love of God in your life every day. Maggie Hoggard