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Bear prayers

25 July 2014

THE idea came from Canada. When Canon Adrian Daffern spent part of his sabbatical in Montreal last year, he learned at St Paul's, South Shore, how successful was their Prayer Bear ministry.

"Members of the local community donate unwanted teddies to the church," he says. "They are cleaned up and repaired and have a prayer tied round their necks with some contact details from the church. People then take the bears to people who are lonely, sad, or ill."

He brought a prayer bear back to Woodstock, where he is Team Rector in

Oxford diocese, as an idea worth a try, and, when he gave a presentation about his time in Canada to members of his church of St Mary Magdalene, he talked about the prayer bears.

Afterwards, two of the congregation approached him to say they were interested in taking up the idea; so the initiative started, and bears began to arrive. They were cleaned, and made ready, and the prayers attached to them were short, simple phrases, or verses from the Psalms.

"Joe and Sandy (above) have done a wonderful job," Canon Daffern says. "At first, I think people were quite bemused; but now we can't keep up with the demand. People take one of the bears with them on hospital visits, sick communions, or to folks who don't get out much; it's wonderful to see the joy they bring, and with people of all ages.

"It's a tangible sign of our love and concern, and we're hearing some lovely stories from people about how much comfort, and even healing, is brought by the gift of one of these special teddies."

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