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Delegates to Diocesan Convention on Dec. 3 noticed a strange buzzing noise and were startled by youth volunteers racing into the room to hand out packets of information and Bishop J. Jon Bruno being wrapped in netting to ward off the attacks of several hungry “mosquitoes” — quickly revealed as Bishops Diane Bruce and Mary Glasspool, Secretary of Convention Janet Wylie and others in mosquito masks.

It was all a bit of “street” theater — what organizers called a “flash mob” — to draw attention to a new diocesan campaign to raise funds for Episcopal Relief & Development‘s Nets for Life, a program to provide nets that repel mosquitoes and help prevent malaria in developing countries.

Representatives of the Episcopal Church relief agency, including diocesan representatives Wilma Jakobsen, senior associate priest at All Saints Church, Pasadena, and Christian Kassoff of St .Wilfrid’s Church, Huntington Beach, as well as Joy Shigaki, national director of the Nets For Life Inspiration Fund; Laura Ellen Muglia, Nets for Life representative for the Diocese of Olympia; and Richard Hoff, major gifts officer for the western United States, addressed convention delegates, asking them to participate in the drive, titled “Forty Day, Forty Thousand Nets.”

The nets can be purchased for $12 each, and each net can save two or three lives, the representatives said. The funds also pay for training in proper use of the insecticide-impregnated nets, which are placed around beds so that mosquitoes cannot attack sleepers during the night.

The Inspiration Fund was established at the 2009 General Convention of the Episcopal Church. It aims to raise $5 million by December of 2012.

As is customary at conventions in the Diocese of Los Angeles, youth volunteers passed the “parkers”— bright red buckets — among delegates to collect donations for Episcopal Relief & Development, formerly known as the Presiding Bishop’s Fund for World Relief (PBFWR).

The red donation buckets are named after the late Rev. Canon Richard I.S. Parker, who served for many years as diocesan representative for PBFWR, and who, Bruno reminded delegates, had a penchant for playing the trumpet while the buckets were being passed around — a part of the tradition that has been dropped in recent years. Delegates now sing a hymn during the collections, which take place several times at each meeting of convention.

Donations from the Dec. 2 – 3 meeting will go directly to the Nets for Life Inspiration Fund. In addition, half the offering taken at the convention Eucharist will be donated to Nets for Life. The other half will benefit Free Wheelchair Ministries.

Epsicopal Relief & Development representatives also ask that each congregation select a Nets for Life laison. A training session for congregational liaisons will be held on Saturday Jan. 28, 11 a.m -12:30 p.m. at Bloy House, 1325 N College Ave, Claremont, CA 91711. For more information, contact Jakobsen at wjakobsen@allsaints-pas.org or Kassoff at zinchy@gmail.com.