- Associated Press - Sunday, March 13, 2016

FORT PAYNE, Ala. (AP) - The prayer beads project started when Connie Phillips saw an advertisement and got an idea.

Now the United Methodist Women - Mary Hannah Circle at St. Paul United Methodist Church makes Protestant prayer beads for those who are sick, struggling or just need a prayer.

“We started ordering kits from (author) Kristen Vincent,” she said. “We ordered two or three kits to see what was involved and to see how to do it. She encouraged making our own so we started accumulating supplies.”

The first time the women’s group met, they made only 25 beads, and the next time they crafted 40.

“We enjoyed assembling them and we enjoyed the time we spent together making them,” said Phillips. “We give them to friends, relatives, nursing homes or people with health issues just to let them know we are praying for them.”

The beads start with a cross, which leads to the invitatory bead. Phillips said this represents an invitation into the circle of prayer with God. Next to it is the resurrection bead. In the circle are four cruciform beads that symbolize the four gospels. Between each of the four are seven week beads that represent the seven days of the week and spiritual perfection. Not counting the resurrection bead, the total number of beads is 33 - the number of years Jesus lived on earth.

“They are a tool to enhance prayer and there is no wrong way to use them,” Phillips said. “You could hold them in your hand, in your bible or hang them up.”

Phillips said their beads have been sent different cities around the south such as Knoxville, Lexington and Orlando. They plan on continuing to craft the beads as long as there is a need.

“A lot of churches give prayer shawls or blankets, but this is what we do,” she said.

The book “A Bead and a Prayer” by Kristen E. Vincent inspired and guided the women’s group with the project. The paperback version is available on bookstore.upperroom.org for $12 and the eBook is $7.99.

“We just felt like prayer is important in our lives and helps get you through the good and bad,” Phillips said.

Some other things the women’s group participates in include: giving clothes and supplies to Kelly’s Rainbow in Albertville, taking food to volunteers at Inner Faith Medical Clinic in Fort Payne and giving baskets to families during Thanksgiving.

“Our pastor, Darrell Morgan, is very supportive of the beads,” she said. “He puts them on the altar and blesses them, and we hope they will bring blessings to people who get them so they will know someone is thinking about them and praying for them.”

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Information from: Fort Payne Times-Journal, https://www.times-journal.com

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