Diocese of Northern California offers barbecue with the bishop as vaccination challenge prize

By Egan Millard
Posted Jul 22, 2021

[Episcopal News Service] As COVID-19 vaccination rates have slowed, a growing number of states, companies and organizations are offering a wide range of incentives for people to receive the vaccine, from lottery tickets to college scholarships. The Diocese of Northern California launched its own campaign to protect its congregations, offering a barbecue party with the bishop as the prize.

The diocese’s Max the Vax Campaign, launched in mid-June, challenged all parishes to register as many vaccinated members as possible. Parishes that reached 100% or more of their average Sunday attendance were entered into a drawing to have Bishop Megan Traquair and her staff prepare and serve a barbecue for the congregation.

Out of the diocese’s 64 parishes, 43 participated, said diocesan missioner for communications Alan Rellaford. A total of 1,393 people reported being vaccinated. Ten parishes that reached at least 100% of their average Sunday attendance – the highest being St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Gridley at 226% – were entered into the drawing, which took place on July 19. On Facebook Live, Traquair selected a Ping-Pong ball from the “Barbecue of Destiny,” revealing St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Arcata as the winner.

“This has been a great campaign, and that’s because the congregations and our members have been so good about trying to get healthy and strong with the vaccination,” Traquair said. “Thank you for keeping safe yourselves and thank you for keeping our brothers and our sisters safe by getting vaccinated. Well done.”

The importance of getting vaccinated against COVID-19 has only increased as the more contagious delta variant spreads among unvaccinated people. About 99% of all COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in the United States are now among people who weren’t fully vaccinated.

The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations has released a COVID-19 vaccine toolkit, which helps individuals and congregations learn about the vaccine, get their shots and encourage others to do the same.

– Egan Millard is an assistant editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at emillard@episcopalchurch.org.