I firmly believe that utilizing our spiritual gifts in an effort to give back to our community is of utmost importance. My favorite aspect of Candler’s coursework is Contextual Education (ConEd). Through ConEd I, every Candler student is given an opportunity to explore his or her spiritual gifts during their weekly hours on site in a church, hospital, foster home, or outreach community setting. One of Candler’s professors took it a step further with her spiritual gifts and began a knitting group called Project Warmth: Crafting a Better World.
Dr. Karen Scheib, Director of the Women, Theology and Ministries Program, recognized knitting and crocheting as some of her spiritual gifts, and she chose to use these gifts in an effort to further help those in our ConEd I communities. To that goal, she created Project Warmth and invited everyone to be involved. She began by purchasing loads of yarn and multiple sets of knitting needles. Dr. Scheib was excited to share her gift and teach all of us how to knit so that we could give back to the communities in which we had become so entrenched and attached.
Last year, Dr. Scheib was the faculty advisor for my ConEd I group which served at the United Methodist Children’s Home. For this particular ConEd site, we planned to make a patchwork lap blanket to give to them. Each of the students in my group helped knit different colored squares that Dr. Scheib finalized by crocheting together into a blanket. She had many ideas for other sites such as hats and scarves for homeless adults and baby blankets and mittens for underprivileged children.
God makes each individual uniquely different and blesses us with a variety of spiritual gifts; I can safely say that knitting is not mine. What was supposed to be my square wound up looking like some unnamed shape! While I certainly believe that more practice would have helped, I was never able to relax for fear of messing something up! I have no doubt that through the years of ministry that I have ahead of me there will be many more “false starts.” But I believe that I will be guided to my appropriate niche each and every time if I remain patient and steadfast in my relationship with the Lord.
For many of my classmates, however, knitting actually became a spiritual discipline and served as a form of self-care – a skill which is really stressed at Candler. Despite all of the reading, papers, and extracurricular activities, all of us must find the time to take care of ourselves. Taking time out of our day for knitting gave us time for reflection and meditation amidst our chaotic schedules. Dr. Scheib explained that we were doing something for ourselves by knitting, but also doing something for others by giving to charity. The dual purpose of this project helped and continues to help all of those involved. I believe that all of us have gifts that can be shared with the community at large, and I admire Dr. Scheib for sharing hers with not only the Candler community but also with those in need throughout the greater-Atlanta area.
- Mia Northington
Mia is a 2nd Year MDiv student from Tennessee and a Student Ambassador.