The Lower Berkshire Valley UMC prayer shawl team spent time hand-crafting shawls for those affected by the recent shooting at a Parkland, FL high school. Photo provided

N.J. Prayer Shawls Blanket F.L. Tragedy

May 1, 2018 | | GNJ News

WHARTON – The Lower Berkshire Valley United Methodist Church (LBV) responded to the tragic shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with prayers for all of those affected.  And then, the Spirit moved.  A whisper, a nudge, a thought and the parishioners felt a call to do more.

The church has an active Prayer Shawl Ministry.  Many in the congregation either knit or crochet prayer shawls which are blessed during worship and then shared with those in the local community and beyond who are going through difficulties in their lives. Ray Suttles, the group leader, said, “We trust that God provides comfort through this expression of God’s love for people.”

Through our United Methodist connection, Lower Berkshire Valley UMC reached out to First Church in Coral Springs, Florida which is located a few miles from the high school and asked if they would be able to distribute the shawls. With the encouragement and thanks of First Church, LBV followed through with their gift.

The prayer shawls were blessed during a Sunday morning worship. Everyone attending came to the front of the sanctuary as each shawl was held and prayed over.

Suttles reported that the shawls were packaged and shipped to Florida.

“The UPS store in Succasunna donated the box, packaged the shawls and labeled the package for us without charge,” he said. “We only paid the shipping cost.”

It was then that a friend of the church heard what they were doing and paid the shipping cost.

Each shawl had a beautiful card designed by church member Charlie Nielsen, and Pastor Tricia Piazza wrote a letter to accompany the package to Rev. Vance Rains of First Church.  LBV felt blessed themselves to be able to share God’s love this way through fellow Christians who were in the area of the tragedy.

“God knows how we all want to help in times of tragedy, and the small congregation of Lower Berkshire Valley UMC was blessed to be moved by the Spirit with an action plan to serve beyond the local community,” said Piazza. “May God continue to move in each congregation, no matter the size, so that we may bless others as God has blessed us!”