Rainbow Scarves for Everyone


Start reminiscing with anyone who attended the PCUSA 218th General Assembly in San Jose, CA and the rainbow scarves worn by so many there will undoubtedly come up. Attractive, colorful and practical for the air conditioned chill of a convention center meeting room, they spread by word of mouth: someone without one asked someone with one, a conversation began, a connection was made and the scarf changed hands or the person was directed to the More Light Presbyterians/Covenant Network corner in the mission fair to get one for themselves.

Rich in Christian and Biblical meaning, the scarves reach back to the first covenant made by God in Genesis 9, when God creates the rainbow as a symbol of the promise to Noah never to destroy the earth by water again. This ancient covenant is just like the one God makes with us through Jesus in that there is no requirement of any sort on the part of Noah or us, his descendents. The rainbow is a sign of God’s covenant of grace with all of us, no strings attached, simply given by God, like Jesus.

No wonder it has been taken up in our time by those who feel left out of God’s grace. In the 1980’s there was the Rainbow Coalition led by Jesse Jackson that united the poor and many different ethnic groups under the rainbow banner. And the rainbow flag has also become a symbol of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community where amazing unity is forged out of immense diversity.

Now, in the PCUSA, the rainbow scarves have emerged as a gift from those within the church who yearn for the day when the PCUSA embraces all God’s beloved. As Jesus said, “When I am lifted up, I shall draw all people to myself (John 12:35),” and there is no “but” in all. The knitters and the wearers join in this conviction.

Above all, the rainbow scarves are meant to prompt conversation. The scarves are meant to achieve what the General Assemblies since 1978, the Peace, Unity and Purity Taskforce and now the Special Committee on Marriage have all called the PCUSA to do: to talk with one another as Christians, as beloved children of God, because prayerful conversation is where we come to know God and neighbor. The rainbow scarves wonderfully fulfilled that yearning for dialogue in San Jose and promise to do so again in the Twin Cities in July.

Rainbow scarves are lovely gifts handcrafted by a stranger (unless you pin your name to them as some do) who wants the church to shine forth Jesus’ covenant of grace. Good Presbyterians who want to engage in a conversation wear them. When you see one at the assembly in July, step up, introduce yourself and begin the conversation.

And for those who wish to give the gift of grace and dialogue at the GA this summer, there is still time to join in the knitting and prayer. Remember, being Presbyterian is not a requirement! Here are the details.

I learned to knit for this and will knit away until the deadline in June! Join me!


Reverend Janet

9 Responses
  • Bill Westmoreland on May 7, 2010

    I have finished five scarves have started on my sixth. Who do I send them too?

  • Michael J. Adee on May 7, 2010

    When I remember that the Presbyterian praying and knitting a Rainbow Scarf is someone who wants her or his Church to be loving and welcoming to all of God’s children, and that the “all” includes God’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children, too, my heart breaks open with deep gratitude and joy.
    One can only imagine the profound difference all of these prayers, dreams and loving intentions make in the life of the Presbyterian Church and in the lives of those knitting.

    I look forward to receiving and wearing a Rainbow Scarf with humility, gratitude and grace at the 219th General Assembly in Minneapolis in July.

  • Janet Edwards on May 7, 2010

    Dear Bill,

    Here’s my shout out for your knitting and praying toward GA–I trust you will keep on turning them out until mid-June!!!

    Bill, if you click on the Here Are The Details at the end of the posting above, you will link to the information about where to send them by when and what the common qualities of the rainbow scarves are. As you know it is just Mexicana Redheart yarn, 48-68 inches long and 3-6 inches wide–all the rest is your own creativity!

    Or go to and search for rainbow scarves. You get all the details there.

    Deepest thanks for your witness to God’s love! Peace, Janet

  • Janet Edwards on May 7, 2010

    Dearest Michael,

    Yes–you remind me of how grateful I am to all the strangers out there who accept this invitation to knit and send them on to folks at the Assembly to wear. We don’t know their names, but God does. God’s Spirit has called you knitters to this ministry–thank you!!

    And, Michael, you remind me of the joy in wearing a rainbow scarf at GA with the sure possibility that a stranger will ask me about it. I will share with him or her what it means to me and they will tell me their story, saying they would like to wear one too. And I will lay the one I was wearing around that person’s shoulders saying, “This was knit by a beloved child of God who wants the church to embrace all its children. Please wear this because you want that too.” And I will head off to the mission fair to get another or I will pull a second one from my pocket and put it on. And there is one less stranger in my life. And another to meet with love.

    What a blessing to recall what is to come of the sharing of joy in July through these scarves!

    Peace, Janet

  • Wes 1 crocheted, Ellis on May 18, 2010

    I learned of the Rainbow Scarf project only 4 or 5 days ago, but I immediately got to work. I’m on my third one (1 crocheted, the others knitted). I hope to get several more done before the deadline. I send them with the love and prayers of this old (very old) Episcopalian, but one with deep ties to the good Presbyterians.
    God’s peace,

  • Janet Edwards on May 19, 2010

    Dear Wes,

    Thank you for calling us Presbyterians good!!! And thank you for so quickly taking up your needles to join in this gospel witness after you heard about it.

    You probably can see that crocheting, for some reason, makes the colors in the scarves brighter that knitting does. This kind of variety in color, pattern, gauge, needle size and even where you start on the skein of yarn makes every scarf a unique gift from someone like you.

    I hope your participation will inspire others to join in too. Peace, Janet

  • Wes Ellis on June 5, 2010

    Dear Janet,
    You are right–the crocheted scarves do better emphasize the rainbow hues of the yarn. I’ve just finished a third crocheted one and it’s even better than the first two.
    I’m starting my tenth scarf and they are all different–very different. I found that in one variation I created in knitting the colors are almost as vibrant as the crocheted ones. It creates a swirl of color through the length of the scarf. Hard to describe but maybe you’ll see them.
    I’m hoping to have at least a dozen done by the time I have to mail them off.
    Love and peace,

  • Patsy on May 17, 2017

    I bow down humbly in the presence of such grseantse.

  • Her synger ingen fugler idag. Det snør som bare den. Vakkert med alt det hvite, men under er det IS! Jeg fikk meg en sklitur pÃ¥ ryggen i morges da jeg skulle hente posten. Genseren gled opp, sÃ¥ snøen møtte bar hud. Iskaldt, men jeg vÃ¥knet da!

Comment on this post