Portland FUMC fills community need for masks

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Paul Nickell, member of PDX FUMC, shows off one of the face masks he made.

Members of Portland Oregon’s First United Methodist Church are providing some bright spots in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, and are discovering God’s light shining on them in new ways. 

Just before the pandemic struck, the church had entered into a partnership with a local non-profit, Lift Urban Portland, to house their food pantry and provide additional volunteers from the congregation. Lift UP serves food insecure folks in northwest Portland, and the need for their services has dramatically increased since we have been told to shelter in place.

A couple of weeks ago one of the church members, local attorney Darin Honn, heard about the need for protective face masks for health professionals. Honn quickly purchased fabric and organized volunteers from the congregation who have produced, to date, 700 masks given to area clinics and hospitals. After the last count, Honn was contacted by home health providers asking for an additional 2,200 masks, and one of the local hospitals called to say “we’ll take as many as you can make.”

“Within the congregation we have many members who live alone and many who are in the ‘high risk’ category for COVID-19.  Our Minister of Pastoral Care organized a phone system and recruited volunteers from within the congregation to make weekly phone calls to more than 100 of our most vulnerable folks,” said senior pastor, Rev. Donna Pritchard. “In a large urban congregation it is easy for folks to stay anonymous or to have little connection with their siblings in Christ. The phone ministry is creating an opportunity for many deepened relationships as people learn what it means to be the body of Christ for one another.”

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