For the past nine months, members of more than 190 churches across the Dakotas-Minnesota Area have been creating beautiful, hand-made purple scarves that will be given to General Conference 2020 participants as a gesture of welcome. This initiative, called the Lydia Project (after Lydia in Acts 16), aims to provide warm hospitality to all who join in the work of legislation, fellowship, and worship when our global connection meets in Minneapolis in May 2020.
Over the past weeks, the number of scarves pledged exceeded the ambitious 10,000 goal!
The scarves were initially planned as a practical solution to drafty, overly-air-conditioned convention center spaces. Quickly, though, they became a symbol of the Dakotas-Minnesota Host Committee’s intention to provide radical hospitality, emphasize our oneness in Christ, and create a memorable experience for all attendees. It didn’t take long for the excitement to spread. Across our three-state area, simple purple yarn is being transformed into gifts of love and prayers for the future of our denomination.
Some knitting groups have set regular meeting times to work together. Many churches have exceeded their initial pledge because participants are enjoying the process so much.
The Common Thread knitting group at Rapid City Canyon Lake United Methodist Church, meets weekly. So far more than 100 scarves have been made. "We have been having fun with it," said Grace Stucke, who is a member of the Common Threads group. "We hope to have the scarves blessed during worship."
In other congregations, it works best to have stitchers work more independently, and then bring the fruits of their labors to church for a blessing before they are packed and prepared for distribution.
Rita Lepp, a member of Bismarck Legacy UMC, is coordinating efforts to make 150 scarves. "We are well on the way. We currently have more than 100 made, and there is a lot of yarn out there," she says. "I am sure we will get to 200. When the Spirit says go, you go!"
Rita purchased 270 sceins of yarn. It is available to anyone who is interested in knitting or crocheting a scarf. "People pick up the yarn and directions. They bring the completed scarf to the church when done. It is just that simple. We have people from throughout the Bismarck community, who are not members of Legacy, participate. All we ask is that they pray when they are kitting or crocheting," Rita says.
Pledges have ranged from five scarves to 500 scarves—and no gift is too large or too small. In every case, prayers are thoughtfully woven into every stitch.
Because of our congregations' generous response to the Lydia Project, every participant at General Conference 2020—delegates and alternates, bishops and spouses, dignitaries, visitors, musicians, and other guests—will receive a tangible reminder of God’s love and the prayers of the host conferences. This is hospitality that exceeds expectations!
The Lydia Project is a tremendous opportunity for congregations across the Dakotas and Minnesota to be involved in preparing to host fellow brothers and sisters in Christ from around the world in May 2020. Even more important are your prayers for God’s presence and guidance as we move forward as The United Methodist Church, seeking always to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Thanks be to God!
Go here to learn more about the Lydia Project.
Rev. MaryAnne Korsch is a deacon at First UMC in Duluth, MN, and a member of the local General Conference 2020 Host Committee. She is coordinating the Lydia Project and happy to answer questions about it and help congregations get involved.