August 13, 2020
First of all, it’s good to be back from our family vacation to the Midwest. We went fishing and boating. We drove by the “Largest Frying Pan in Iowa” and visited a giant fiberglass walleye in Minnesota as well.
Secondly, when we returned, the church staff let me know that we had received a surprising delivery from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) – 3,000(!) high-quality cloth face masks. This wasn’t entirely out-of-the-blue. Several months ago, our bishop let us know how we could request face masks from the HHS. I immediately filled out the application because I appreciate free things and mistakenly expected that what they were offering were the simple disposable masks that many of us use. I thought they might provide a reserve for the church for the months ahead that could tide us over if shortages developed again. The application from the HHS suggested masks could be delivered in 8-10 days – which of course didn’t happen. So, I assumed the offer had been overtaken by events and forgot about it.
So, what do we do with 3,000 face masks? First, we are grateful to God that we have this problem. Though availability of many supplies is much better these days, we aren’t that far away from the shortages of this spring. But that said, many of us already have masks through the work of our mask-making group – they have made more than 1,000 masks themselves!
We talked about this at our vestry meeting this week, and this is what we are doing. First, if you do have a need for adult-sized reusable facemasks, we’d love to mail them to you, or you can pick them up at church. Just email email@example.com to request some. Masks come in sealed packages of five. Let us know how many packages you can make use of and where to send them. Second, we have named Lisa Baehr, our junior warden, our “Mask Czar” (which I feel is one of the better church leadership titles I have so-far created), and she is talking with all of our mission partners in the area to see if they have a need for masks that we can help meet. Finally, we would be happy to distribute masks to local businesses and individuals beyond Epiphany who could put them to use as well. If the place you work, extended family, friends and neighbors might like some masks from our store, please contact Lisa (firstname.lastname@example.org). No guarantees of course, depending on how many requests we receive.
That said, our goal is not to hoard, but distribute what we have been given. We’ve been blessed by God and the HHS, and we want to pass it along.
The Rev. Peter Frank, Rector