Wednesday, August 01, 2018

STITCH AND CHAT - Eleanor Shepherd

“What I would like would be a group where we could get together every week, maybe bring a knitting or craft project and just chat as we work together on what we are doing, spending time getting to know each other.” During a conversation over coffee, Kathy expressed this idea to me. She was a friend who had recently returned to our congregation and we were looking for ways that we might build community.

            I liked her idea and suggested that she develop it a bit more by creating a poster advertising such a group. A couple of days later, after the exchange of a few emails, I received the poster, inviting people to come to Stitch and Chat. In the meantime, Kathy had also talked with a couple of other ladies who were willing to teach knitting, crocheting or sewing to anyone who wanted to join the group, but might be kept away by not knowing how to do these things.  

            Kathy was job hunting herself and had a couple of good leads so she was not sure she would be able to lead the group, nor did she want to take sole responsibility for it. She recruited Louise who was always enthusiastic about projects that brought people together. She is a real people lover.  

            We decided the day and put up the poster on the doors and the front windows of the church, prepared and waited to see what would happen. Somehow we felt that the impetus behind all of this was bigger than us. The first week we met together there were four of us. We had announced the program to the congregation on Sunday, but it did not seem to interest anyone. 

            The following week we were encouraged when eight ladies who showed up.  One lady who lived in the neighbourhood passed the church every day as she went about her errands, and told us that as she walked by that week, she noticed the poster advertising Knit and Chat and thought she would give it a try. Another lady told us that although she lived in the area, when she went home she usually took a different route that did not take her past our door, but for some reason that week, she decided to choose a different route. In doing so, she saw our poster and thought this might be a place where she could find someone to talk to. So she was there. A couple of ladies from the congregation also came. 

            It grew from there. People who came to our Family Services offices for help saw the notice and decided to join us.  Women from one of our shelters came with the chaplain to learn to knit. Women told their friends and they came. It did not seem to matter whether their first language was English, French, Spanish or some other language they were soon communicating with one another and caring for one another in a way that only women who understand we are all sisters are able to do. 

            Many people benefit from this exciting group as it grows and expands. The leadership has changed. I am no longer the pastor. Kathy, who initiated the program, has moved away. Enthusiastic Louise has taken over the leadership. New ladies still come and learn how to knit or crochet or sew. Creative opportunities have been provided for those who can do none of these activities. 


         The women have knit many Izzy dolls to send with medicines to the developing world and little hats for newborns in many countries. They have made slippers for all of the women in one of our shelters. They are now busily working on mitts and hats and scarves to put on a Christmas tree outside our door this December for those who pass and need protection from the cold. 

            One of the most beautiful developments is taking place during our coffee time together. Louise asks us to answer a question about our lives like: 
            What was the best year or your life and why?  
            What is your favourite place in your home and why? 

            As the ladies share their stories, we grow in our love and appreciation for each other. Kathy was right. It is building community and we sense the bonds of love that are being knit with one another by the One who is love.   

Word Guild Award
Word Guild Award
Word Guild Award

Eleanor Shepherd, an award-winning writer is a retired Salvation Army officer and has published over 100 articles internationally. A speaker at conferences, in Canada, the USA, France, Belgium, Switzerland, South Africa, Australia, Haiti and Jamaica, her stories appeared in Hot Apple Cider and Christmas with Hot Apple Cider.  Her book More Questions than Answers, explains her style of evangelism by listening


Peter Black said...

What a lovely story, Eleanor! To pun - a real 'knit' idea, and it has evidently turned out to be a neat idea that has blossomed into an effective ministry.
As I read I recalled preaching a message based on Paul's words in his letter to the Colossian church (Ch. 2:2 NKJV): ". . . that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ . . ."
May the work continue to enrich the lives of the participants and benefit those who receive the beautiful works of their hands and hearts. ~~+~~

Eleanor Shepherd said...

Thanks, Peter for your gracious comments and the way that you worked these right into the piece. You are a most skilled encourager.

Peter Black said...

Eleanor, your encouraging, pastoral heart shines through your writing. And so, you also, as an encourager are to be encouraged. Hey, what a great blessing it is! :) ~~+~~

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