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United Methodist Church of the Dunes' Knitting Ministry Provides Items to Persons in Need | Arts & Culture

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United Methodist Church of the Dunes' Knitting Ministry Provides Items to Persons in Need

GRAND HAVEN, Michigan, May 15, 2011 - What started out ten years' ago as a leisurely "craft circle" for women to get together, share their talents and love of knitting within the United Methodist Church of the Dunes (UMC-DUNES) in Grand Haven, has evolved into a full-blown outreach ministry that serves a growing need of people in the community experiencing life-changing illnesses, death or living with persons who are ill and dying.

Since 2006, women who worship at UMC-DUNES, at 717 Sheldon Road in Grand Haven, have received ongoing requests for knitted items to help in the healing process after illnesses, deaths or grieving.  Over 20 volunteers at the church have created, completed and distributed more than 650 knitted and crocheted afghans, prayer shawls and scarves to persons who have requested them in the Tri-Cities region.

"What makes the prayer shawls is not the pattern or yarn that goes into them but, rather, the prayers and love that are shared.  We have received so many wonderful thank-you notes, relaying what the afghans have meant to the recipients and they are grateful for the support of our church family," said Mary Kay Alguire, Knitting Ministry co-founder.

Members of the UMC-DUNES' Knitting Ministry get together formally once a month to spend a few hours knitting and crocheting for others.  The knitters and crocheters also work independently between meetings.  Projects do not have to be afghan or winter scarves but anything that could be given to support someone in need, such as a pillow, hat, slippers, shoulder wraps and more.  During knitting times together, women of the church take time to worship, provide gratitude and knit.  The ladies consider their work a demonstration of Biblical-related acts of mercy, love and compassion within a caring outreach ministry serving others.

"A little German lady taught me how to knit when I was eight years' old and then after I got married I would knit during the time my girls were in their last years of high school," said Helen Beers, adding, "Knitting keeps my arthritic hands going."

Beers is known for always carrying a knitting bag with her as she travels around the community.

"I'm always knitting and I knit every time I sit, even when I'm listening to jazz in the evening or waiting at a doctor's appointment," says Beers.

The way the Knitting Ministry at UMC-DUNES works is that members of the group receive names of recipients from UMC-DUNES' senior pastor Dan Duncan, as well as from the church Prayer List, choir members, and phone calls to the church from persons in the area who would like one sent to their homes.  Once a recipient is identified, a knitted item is sent to them along with a hand-signed card from all members of the Knitting Ministry.  A prayer of blessing upon the gift is also attached to each knitted item and sent out to persons in the community.

"We want people to know that our Knitting Ministry creates items not just for our own church members but community citizens, many of whom are ill or dying.  We feel it is comforting for people to know they are not being forgotten and that we are remembering them when they are experiencing a health crisis or in some kind of need.  We will remain committed to giving the gift of our presence and prayers with each knitted item we send out now and in the future," said Beers.

Although the Knitting Ministry is not part of a line-item budget within the church, money for yarn is frequently donated by other church members.  A record of each recipient given a knitted item is kept and each year the women in the Knitting Ministry hold a Memorial Service for all recipients who have died.

"We do this because we are faithful followers, letting God work through us.  Again and again, we hear about the comfort the prayer shawls, afghans and other items are providing to those who receive them and it is these stories that help strengthen our faith," said Beers.

Anyone interested in receiving further information about the Knitting Ministry at UMC-DUNES should contact Helen Beers at the church:  616/842-7980.

The mission of United Methodist Church of the Dunes is "to be a church with outstretched arms demonstrating the caring of Christ to each other, the community, and the world by encouraging growth in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, challenging and equipping all to be faithful disciples for the transformation of the world."

Founded in 1873, UMC-DUNES moved to its present location at 717 Sheldon Road, Grand Haven in February 1962.  The church provides a variety of community outreach ministries to women, children, men and families in the area, supports Family Promise and the annual CROP Walk, offers membership in its United Methodist Men and United Methodist Women groups, plus book and Bible studies, a weekly creative arts and crafts group, participation in Coast Guard Festival, plus Christian service projects to ministries in Panama and Haiti.  Children's, youth and adult educational programs, book study groups, plus weekly Wednesday evening dinners are provided throughout the year.  For further information about UMC-DUNES or church membership, contact the church's administrative office at:  616/842-7980.