Sturgis woman creates Prayer Bears
STURGIS — When she’s not delivering Meals on Wheels or volunteering at her church, Lola Killam can be found creating little stuffed bears.
But these aren’t just any ordinary bears — they’re Prayer Bears.
Killam got the idea after attending a church-sponsored breakthrough prayer workshop. At the event, they showed a video of a congregation in Ohio who handed out store-bought teddy bears they had dubbed Prayer Bears to those in need of extra prayer.
Those people might include someone who had a death in the family or someone who might be going through a particularly rough time.
The concept resonated with Killam, and upon returning home from the workshop, she pondered how she could start such a program at her home church – Sturgis United Methodist.
She found a pattern for a teddy bear in an old crochet book.
“I made one, and it was so cute, so I made more. Then I made some more, and people kept taking them,” she said with a wide grin.
Killam places the Prayer Bears in a basket in the fellowship hall at her church for all to take. Recently, she gave out four to a family who had lost their son in a motor vehicle accident. Another was sent by a local family to their granddaughter in the military who was deployed to Qatar.
The bears are about 5 inches tall and come in a rainbow of colors.
“I started out with scraps that I had. People have given me yarn, and I have bought some,” she said.
From start to finish, it takes about 90 minutes to make a Prayer Bear. The bear is made by first crocheting individual body parts, arms, legs, torso, head, and ears. They are then stuffed and pieced together to make the complete bear.
Killam says that although she can be quite prolific at crocheting the Prayer Bears, they aren’t perfect.
“Some days I crochet tighter than others,” she said.
Killam said her love of crocheting comes from her mother who crocheted a great deal. She believes she was a young girl of 9 or 10 when she first crocheted.
Killam’s mom crocheted doilies, as well as edging on pillowcases and handkerchiefs. They would sell the embellished pillow cases and handkerchiefs at church bazaars.
“They sold quite well,” she said.
Over the years, Killam has crocheted everything from sweaters to afghans with yarn, but she has also done delicate work with the thin crochet thread.
“I start things really well, but don’t always finish them,” she said.
But she has stuck with the Prayer Bears and finished nearly 380 of them, with most gifted to people in need of prayer.
“I give them whenever somebody needs one. I haven’t kept track of where they went. I’m just glad they are getting used,” she said.
The bears are fitted with a little message to whomever receives them. It reads: “Let this Prayer Bear remind you that someone at Sturgis United Methodist Church is praying for you.”
She has heard from people who have received the bears and what it meant in their life at that time.
“It makes me feel good because I know that I am doing something that gets passed on to people in need,” she said.
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