The Beslan Russia Shawl Project



Spring 2005

Dear Prayer Shawl Knitters and Friends,

The prayer shawls for the families in Beslan are on the first stage of the journey to Russia. Lilian and John O’Hagan emailed the good news that they’ve delivered all the boxes – all 270 shawls – to the shipper, Meest, which will shortly send them to Toronto and on to Russia. Hallelujah!

The last time I wrote to you, I thought we’d have about 100 shawls to send. Unbeknownst to me, knitters all over the U.S. had heard of the Ad Hoc Prayer Shawls Ministry for Beslan through the Shawl Ministry Gathering and the web site, the United Church of Christ, fellowships, seniors groups, and friends. Packages with one, two, eleven, ten shawls continued to arrive at the United Parish in Lunenburg right up through packing days in the first week of March (and even thereafter!). Lilian received a single package in February with 40 shawls made by the Wisconsin Seniors. This is truly an awe-inspiring ministry.

Yevgeny Zhigulin of Mission Vera, Beslan, Russia, is awaiting the shawls, which are estimated to arrive in eight to ten weeks (from March 30). Yevgeny, who works with the grieving families understands the significance of the shawl ministry and has agreed to present the shawls. John O’Hagan was surely guided to find this man who is willing, understanding, and working in ministry in the Beslan area. Please keep Yevgeny in prayer.

Each shawl package includes a cover letter (English version attached) and the Prayer for Comfort (attached) translated into Russian. The name of the knitter and/or church affiliation is also enclosed, and in many cases, a photo of the knitter or the knitting group. We also included any notes or cards that came with the individual shawls. 

Yevgeny will certainly have some lovely shawls to give. I’ve attached some photos with glimpses of the shawls as we packed them. Also below is a list of churches who knit shawls (thanks to Lynne Klaft of the United Parish who kept track), or if no church affiliation, the individual. Please let me know if I missed you! 

My instinct is share my emotion by giving thanks or expressing admiration for all that’s been given to comfort the Beslan families. But I’m reminded of something a pastor once told me. We don’t applaud the choir because their song is prayer. Instead, we may join with them, saying “Amen” to affirm their prayer. Amen, sisters. 

You’ll hear from me at least once more when we know about the shipment’s arrival or any other news.

In Christ,

List of Churches:

Acton Congregational Church, Acton, Mass.
Ashburnham Community, Ashburnham, Mass.
Centre Congregational, Brattleboro, Vermont
Congregational Church of Christ, North Leominster, Mass.
Congregational Church, New London, Conn.
Congregational Church of Christ, Littleton, Mass.
Edwards Church, Framingham, Mass.
Ellington Congregational, Ellington, Conn.
Fairlawn Nursing Home, Leominster, Mass.
Faith United Church, Fitchburg, Mass.
First Church of Christ, Wethersfield, Conn.
First Congregational Church, Riveredge, New Jersey
First Congregational Church, Oxford, Mass.
First Congregational Church, Princeton, Mass.
First Congregational Church, Greenfield, Mass.
Holiday United Church of Christ, Holiday, Florida
Holy Family of Nazareth, Leominster, Mass.
Keystone Center, Leominster, Mass.
Plymouth Congregational Church, Framingham, Mass.
Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Bloomfield, Conn.
Sacred Heart Church, Southbury, Conn.
St. Anselm’s Catholic Church, Cleveland, Ohio
St. Camilla’s Catholic Church, Fitchburg, Mass.
St. Dunstan’s Catholic Church, Glastonbury, Conn.
St. John the Evangelist, Montville, Conn.
St. Mary’s Parish, Uxbridge, Mass.
St. Maurice Church, New Britain, Conn.
St. Patrick/St. Anthony’s Catholic Church, Hartford, Conn.
St. Peter’s By the Sea Presbyterian Church, Huntington Beach, Calif.
St. Rose of Lima, Newtown, Conn.
United Church of Christ, Southbury, Conn.
United Church of Christ, Grafton, Mass.
Union Church
United Methodist Church, Leominster, Mass.
United Parish, Lunenburg, Mass.
Wisconsin Seniors at Stevens Point, Wisconsin
Sandra Baiardi, Manchester, Conn.
Carolyn Reader, Conn.

(Click on the photo to see a larger view)


Knitters in Chagrin Falls, Ohio:  January 11, 2005

Shawls displayed in United Parish sanctuary


Lunenburg United Parish knitters start packing 

March 7 (photo courtesy of Pastor Burr)


After the blessing of the shawls: March 12, 2005  

- St Anselm Parish, Chesterland Ohio


Another packing day, Linda and Lilian, in Chagrin Falls


Beth and Lilian, Chagrin Falls, Ohio, prepare to 

load boxes for trip to shipper


John O’Hagan at Meest Shippers 

unloading boxed shawls


The shawls arrive!!!


From left to right:
Alexander, who works in Christian youth camps.
Tatanyana, who leads counseling services on *Grozny.
Yevgeny, head of the Baptist mission
Luba, office administrator and interpreter
Victor, who carries out his services in the "hot regions".

(*Note that Grozny was divested during the Russian suppression of the Chechnyan revolt.
The center of the city is still a "wasteland.")


A Beslan mother receiving her shawl: July 2005


The following is a letter from the Mission Vera Team on behalf of the women of Beslan:

"Let your light so shone before men,
that they may see your good works
and glorify your father in heaven," Matt. 5:16

Mission "Vera" employees continue distributing the shawls, visiting each house with
the sermon of the Gospel and a pray of consolation.

The women in Beslan who has lost their dearest and nearest in the act of terrorism in
September 3, express their hearty gratitude to believing sisters, who knitted these beautiful
shawls with prayer of comfort and love and for the encouragement granted to them.

The shawls granted to them with love, have warmed victims' souls, gave hope for their
future life.  Joy together is double joy, grief together is half grief. Thanks a lot you have
taken upon yourself half of our grief. It is easier when there are true friends side by side.

We thank you for the granted service. We have gone through severe years of war in
Chechnya, and such kind of work is more and more helps us to affirm in belief in our
Lord Jesus Christ' and his boundless Love to us.

With gratitude to you,

Women of Beslan, mission "Vera" leader with his team



Accompanying the shawls was a song entitled:  "TO NOT FORGET "

Click here to view the song with the lyrics.



154 shawls have been distributed to the women of Beslan

who lost family members during the the school tragedy there nearly two years ago.


Click Here to view more shawl recipients



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