Blessed be the tie that binds, but blessed also are the “chains” that connect one person to another.
Nearly every Tuesday afternoon, a small group of women gather at Morgan's Chapel United Methodist Church in Townsend. For about three hours, the ladies knit, crochet, fellowship and create chains of love.
The chain stitch, the foundation for all crochet stitches, is the beginning stitch in almost every crochet pattern. They are used over and over again as the women lovingly crochet and knit blankets every Tuesday. When complete, the blankets are given away to church members and their families who are sick or recovering from injuries or illnesses.
Started this summer, the Morgan’s Chapel Blanket Ministry has already given away more than 10 handmade blankets. They are important outward expressions of people’s care, says Morgans Chapel UMC pastor Rev. Melissa Traver.
“It’s all the love and concern that the church has, but it’s really tangible and you can hang onto and wrap up in them,” Rev. Traver said.
When going to visit someone in the hospital or at their home, Rev. Traver grabs a blanket or two from her stash, knowing that, by taking the blanket, she’s taking an extension of the church family with her.
“What has been the nicest thing for me with the blanket ministry is that when I go to see people … I really appreciate having something to take with me that is representative of lots of folks. I feel like that when I go to see them, it’s not just me going, but it’s all the people of the church. That’s what’s great about it for me as a pastor – to really feel like you took this whole group of people with you, and you left them there.”
Not all the women involved in the Blanket Ministry are crocheting and knitting experts. Ladies of all ages and skill levels are welcome to join in the fun, even those who have never before made a stitch of any sort.
Over the past few months, Nila Geiger, who has been involved with the ministry since it started, has been learning how to crochet. Her mother Lulu Daughenbaugh is an expert, but Geiger hadn’t picked up a crochet hook or knitting needle in years.
“I did crochet two afghans about 30 years ago,” she said, “and the first one I crocheted was so bad that I had to give it to the dog! The second one turned out pretty decent, but I had not crocheted since then but thought it would be fun to get back into it. My mother is an expert so I thought it’d be fun to start again to crochet.”
It’s a family affair for Geiger and Daughenbaugh; Gloria Ammerman, Geiger’s sister and Daughenbaugh’s daughter, is a part of the Blanket Ministry, too.
Ammerman doesn’t knit or crochet and doesn’t have any interest in learning, said Geiger, but she makes tassels to decorate the ends of the blankets.
Daughenbaugh, 89, has been crocheting almost all her life. She enjoys the fellowship and the opportunity to use her skills to help others that the ministry offers.
“It gives me a great love to help someone; I just love to do for others,” Daughenbaugh said. “I like to bless them and if I can help make them feel better, I try to do what I can.”
During their break from school this summer, three younger women joined the group. Ginger Bailey, 12, Maddie Bailey, 10, and Judith Ann Douglas, 10, came every Tuesday to learn to knit and crochet. Daughenbaugh even made each girl a tote bag in which they keep their knitting supplies.
The girls pay attention to their school holidays, said Rev. Traver, and look forward to joining the group when they’re out of school on a Tuesday.
“I think it’s just beautiful, in small churches like ours, to have the opportunity for the older folks to teach the children and to have those one-on-one relationships,” she said. “I think it’s a real gift of the small church and the small community.”
The ministry, which started out as a way for women to fellowship while doing something they love, has turned into a wonderful ministry for both those who give and those who receive, said Rev. Traver.
“It is nice how they have come together,” she said. “It’s just evolved; it wasn’t intentional. It has sort of taken on this life of its own and it really is a wonderful gift. The love, concern, prayers and the spirit of God is there with the people who need it.”
--By Kara Witherow, South Georgia Advocate editor
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