Girl Scouts "Prayer Wheel" ready for nationwide distribution through Forma

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A "Prayer wheel" designed by a group of Pittsburgh Girl Scouts available through Forma, a nationwide professional organization for Episcopal children’s ministry.

Girl Scouts designed a Prayer Wheel as part of their "Pray and Play" bags.

Bishop Dorsey McConnell had a problem. He needed to make sure that all 37 Episcopal churches in the diocese were prepared to welcome children who came to worship. Fortunately for the Bishop, a group of Girl Scouts had a plan that not only helped their local diocese, but also may reach Episcopal churches throughout the nation.

Most of the Girl Scouts in Troop 57003 belong to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Mt. Lebanon, where their troop holds its meetings. As active members of their church, the Juniors--Girl Scouts in fourth and fifth grades--were determined to help their broader faith community as part of earning their Bronze Award. They decided to create 100 welcoming “Pray & Play” bags to be distributed to every church in the diocese.

First, the girls considered the purpose of the activities in the bags. Rather than merely keeping children quiet during worship – the intent of most “Busy Bags”– the girls felt that the bags were an opportunity for children to learn about faith, and dubbed them “Pray & Play” bags instead. The girls then considered the needs and objectives of all the people who might encounter the bags. Children want to have fun. Parents want the children to learn about faith and to keep quiet during worship. Priests and congregations want to welcome children. Pew keepers want to keep things neat and tidy.
The girls considered the design of the bags, earning their Product Designer badge in the process. The girls debated boxes verses bags; considered storage requirements; and pondered the optimal size.

They put their math skills to the test in calculating the cost of craft materials and making sure to stay within their budget.

Next, the girls decided on the contents. Crayons, colored pencils or markers? The girls weighed pros and cons of each before ultimately choosing crayons. But what colors? How many? The girls took their decisions quite seriously.

Finally, the girls designed decorative “Pray & Play” labels for the bags.

Best of all, as part of earning their Drawing badge, two girls created original artwork to represent prayer icons. Another girl, working on her Digital Photographer badge, photographed the artwork, then used her graphic design skills to create a beautiful prayer wheel.

With help from the St. Paul’s youth group, other members of their own Girl Scout troop and members of Ambassador Girl Scout Troop 50740, the girls cut out 100 prayer wheels. They sorted crayons and other supplies into piles of 10. Then, in a massive assembly line, they labeled and stuffed all 100 bags full of goodies designed to delight, educate and entertain young churchgoers.

On Friday, November 7, at Trinity Cathedral during a worship service attended by leaders and clergy from every church in the diocese, Bishop McConnell welcomed the Girl Scouts, thanked them for their efforts and blessed the bags. The next day, at the diocesan convention, representatives from each church were thrilled to receive bags to take back to their parish.

But the girls’ influence wasn't limited to Pittsburgh. Lisa Brown, troop leader and Director of Children’s Ministry at St. Paul’s, shared the story of the girls’ project to members of Forma, a nationwide professional organization for Episcopal children’s ministry. She shared a copy of the prayer wheel with members, who asked permission to use it in their churches.

Now, the Girl Scouts who were involved in creating this project have the satisfaction of knowing that every time they see an Episcopal Church in the United States, there is a possibility that a child in that church is using their prayer wheel.

About Girl Scouts:
Founded in 1912, Girl Scouts of the USA is the preeminent leadership experience for girls and is the leading authority on girls' healthy development. Girl Scouts builds girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place. The 3-million-member organization serves girls from every corner of the United States and its territories. Girl Scouts of the USA also serves American girls and their classmates attending American or international schools overseas in 90 countries. For more information on how to join, volunteer, reconnect or donate to Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania, call 800-248-3355 or visit gswpa.org.

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Lisa Shade
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