Austin church raising funds to send mosquito nets to Africa

Published 12:07 pm Friday, March 18, 2011

One of the oldest churches in Austin has been lending helping hands in Austin, and around the world since its founding in the 1860s.

Christ Episcopal Church of Austin, founded by Bishop Henry Benjamin Whipple (the first Episcopal in Minnesota) tries to focus on at least one, large international project each year. This year, the church is trying to raise money to send mosquito nets to sub-Saharan African Countries. It’s all part of Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD).

Nets for Life, as it is referred to, will help reduce the spread of malaria in many African countries. The Reverend Diana Rogers said African mosquitoes don’t bother animals, only humans. The spread of malaria is therefore much higher. She said malaria killed 800,000 people in 2009, and 90 percent of the deaths were in sub-Saharan African countries. And 85 percent of those African deaths were children younger than 5.

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According to Rogers of Austin, ERD donates 100 percent of its proceeds it receives. No proceeds go toward overhead costs, which is unusual of compared to other organizations, she said.

“‘How do we help others?’ has just been a part of how the Episcopal church has done it’s work,” Rogers said.

The entire, national Episcopal organization is part of the fundraising. According to Rogers, there’s roughly 2.3 million Episcopals nation wide. Minnesota is home to about 20,000 Episcopals, and has a goal of sending at least one net from every member of the Church to Africa.

“The mission has been a very big part of the ethos,” Rogers said. “Particularly here in Minnesota. The Episcopal church in Minnesota has this long focus of helping others.”

Nets for Life will continue throughout Lent. However, there’s no need to be a member of the Episcopal church to donate, Rogers said. The church accepts donations from anyone in just about any form.

“Anybody in the community or businesses who would like to participate in this drive, all they have to do is contact the church,” Rogers said.

Other areas Austin’s Christ Episcopal Church makes a difference include, a free community meal once a month, a food shelf, serving coffee at RE-fest and Dress for Success (a drive in the Twin Cities), which gives business clothing to women who can’t afford it.

Christ Episcopal Church looks to continue its tradition of lending help long after it celebrates its 150th anniversary in Austin next year.