By: Christa Meland
As we celebrate Christ’s resurrection during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are reminded that we are a people of hope and new life, knowing that sin and death and despair do not get the final word. And as we hear daily reports of people who are sick and dying amid this global health crisis, we are reminded of our call to heal a hurting and broken world.
Caring for our neighbors is taking on many forms right now, but one thing that every person and every community have in common is a need to be vigilant in slowing the spread of coronavirus. Many hospital systems are short on masks and calling for donations. At the same time, as the illness continues to spread and given that many who have the illness lack symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is now recommending that everyone wears a cloth face mask when out in public. For those who don’t sew or have the necessary materials to make one, this directive can be difficult to follow.
So what would it look like to meet this vital need for people in our churches, our neighborhoods, our hospitals, our nursing homes? As we embrace the 2020 Annual Conference theme “Be the Light: Live Hope!” we invite you to join us in making masks for all who need them in our communities.
Minnesota United Methodists have come together many times in recent years to engage in acts of generosity and compassion for our neighbors near and far. First, we saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of children in sub-Saharan Africa by raising upwards of $2.3 million for Imagine No Malaria. Then we rose to the occasion when Bishop Ough issued a Cleaning Bucket Challenge for disaster relief, donating nearly 2,000 buckets. We also packed more than 2 million meals for the world’s hungry children through our “Million Meals Marathon.” And just this past year, as a Dakotas-Minnesota Area, we made more than 13,000 purple scarves for attendees at the next General Conference.
This conference-wide “Masks for Minnesota” initiative is a continuation of our commitment to heal a broken world and a tangible way to share God’s love by keeping people in our mission fields healthy and safe. How many masks can your church make and distribute to people in your community? A variety of graphics are available in a Dropbox folder to help you promote this opportunity to your congregation.
We urge you to encourage and challenge your congregation to participate in this mask-making effort. Keep track of the masks you collectively make and give out, and report your final number to us through this simple form by May 22. As we enter the season of Pentecost—filled with the Holy Spirit and called to be the presence of Christ to others—we will lift up and celebrate how we as the Minnesota Annual Conference made masks so that all could stay healthy and safe.
“Healing a broken world means shining a light wherever and whenever the shadow falls,” said Rev. Lyndy Zabel, director of missional impact and community engagement, who is leading this initiative. “As hopeful people, we look forward to the day when the darkness of the virus has subsided. Until then, let’s help ourselves and our communities. My mask protects you; your mask protects me. We are truly all in this together.”
Instructions and resources
Use two 9-inch by 6-inch rectangles for adult masks; 7.5-inch by 5-inch typically works well for children’s masks. Sew Good Goods in St. Paul is offering free kits to make masks for Minnesota health care workers and has created a CDC-compliant pattern. Here are some resources to get you started:
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church