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Shawl Ministry

Our Story

The giving of comfort items
within worship communities isn’t a new idea. It’s been done for centuries, but in the late 1990s two women attending Hartford Seminary in Connecticut gave a new voice to this long-standing practice. Janet Bristow and Victoria Galo combined their love of the crafts of knitting and crocheting with their experience in the Seminary’s program of Applied Feminist Spirituality to create what has come to be known as the Shawl Ministry. Alone or in the company of others, members of a congregation create items that will provide comfort to others in the congregation during times of need. Their idea (described more fully at www.shawlministry.com) has been embraced by groups and denominations throughout the country, including many UU congregations.   

Shawl Ministry at FUS began as the germ of an idea. The work of Janet Bristow and Victoria Galo was briefly mentioned at a retreat in January 2006 during the FUS Quest spiritual development program. It lay fallow for two years, and found its way into the light in the long, deep winter of of 2008. It took only a word to get it started, and the seed that was planted at the Quest retreat blossomed into a full garden. Within two years nearly 60 people had created shawls, lap robes, and child comfort blankets that would provide comfort and connection for members of our congregation who would benefit from being surrounded by the symbol of the embrace of the congregation.

Interest in the Shawl Ministry far exceeded our expectations. In March 2009 we expanded our commitment to include the Child Dedication Blanket Project. Each child who is dedicated at FUS receives a hand-made blanket marking this important rite of passage in the life of the child and family.


The FUS Shawl Ministry has three goals:
  • To nurture social and spiritual bonds within our ever-growing congregation 
  • To support the individual spiritual development of members of the Society through options of shared participation, involvement, and service
  • To provide comfort and solace to members of our church community during times of difficulty and transition
What distinguishes Shawl Ministry is the spirit of intentionality that goes into the creation of each piece. Though anyone in the congregation can give a comfort item, they are most frequently given by clergy and lay ministers in the course of their pastoral calls.

We may or may not know who will receive the item we are making, but people are encouraged as they make the item to “weave” thoughts of comfort or connection into their work: A word, a prayer, a mediation, song, or poem, spoken or unspoken. 

Each item has been made by hand by people in our church community with a goal of providing comfort and connection. In this way, the item symbolizes the caring not of just one person, but of the whole congregation.

The people who make up shawl ministry

The Shawl Ministry is made up of people who have some relationship with FUS, and who are interested in providing comfort items for people within FUS.  Shawl Ministry members are most often members of FUS, but some are affiliates, or others who have a commitment to FUS.  All skill levels are welcome.

How we manage ourselves

The day-to-day work of organizing and supporting the work of the Shawl Ministry is done by a small coordinating group. To assure that the Shawl Ministry meets the needs and interests of the participants, the coordinators from time to time survey members for new ideas and suggestions. To reach the Shawl Ministry Team coordinators, use the link at the right.

Contact Us!

We'd love to hear from you

Check out

the Shawl Ministry calendar

Frequently Asked

(with many of the answers)

Item Donation Form