A flock of stuffed lambs spreading from New Philadelphia Moravian Church in Winston-Salem is helping shut-ins feel connected to their church family.
“In its first year, the Lamb Ministry of New Philadelphia Moravian Church has been a reminder to more than 50 church members that they are an important part of the New Philadelphia family,” explains Clyde Manning, a part of New Philadelphia’s Lamb Ministry team. “As a part of pastoral care, small, stuffed lambs have been delivered to men and women who are hospitalized, home-bound, living in nursing homes or assisted care facilities, are experiencing serious challenges, or who have become disengaged from the church body through various other life situations.”
Each lamb wears a tag around its neck proclaiming John 10:11, that Jesus is the good shepherd who “lays down His life for the sheep.” The tag also describes the Lamb Ministry as an activity of the church that carries the prayers of the congregation with it.
The Lamb Ministry originally had two purposes:
To be a tangible reminder to the recipient that he or she is in the thoughts and prayers of the New Philadelphia family;
And to strengthen the relationships between those who are no longer regular church attendees and the active church body.
“As those purposes were fulfilled, another benefit was realized,” says Clyde. “Church members have asked for permission to carry the lambs to family members and friends outside of the church body who might be comforted by the gesture.”
While stuffed animals may seem to have a gender preference, both women and men have received — and appreciated — the lambs. Recently, a young parishioner prayed over a lamb that was then presented to a special friend, an elderly gentleman who was hospitalized. Through the lamb delivered by a pastoral care member, young hands caressed old.
Those individuals receiving lambs are invited to keep them or pass them on. In the late fall of 2012, a lamb made its way to a rehabilitation center room of a woman who was recovering from brain surgery. It was a gift from her best friend, a 99-year-old woman who had received it earlier in the year.
Through the lamb ministry, church members and those they love are being reminded that “Jesus, the Good Shepherd, loves you and watches over you.”
Clyde Manning is a member of New Philadelphia Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, N.C.
From the June/July 2013 Moravian Magazine