SALT LAKE CITY — Employees of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at six facilities around the world are sewing hundreds of thousands of cloth face masks and surgical gowns for health care workers to assist with needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Peggy Cowherd, managing director of the church’s Materials Management Department, said this is one way the church can use its resources to assist in the worldwide cause.

“We, as a global church, have sought ways to help and reach out to our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world,” Cowherd said in a church statement. “One way that we can help is through offering our services from our sewing facilities.”

With the approval of the First Presidency in mid-April, employees stopped producing sacred temple clothing and began sewing medical-grade gowns and cloth face masks. The gowns are being made at the church’s two U.S. facilities in Utah — Salt Lake City and American Fork. The masks are being produced at the other four locations: Brazil, Paraguay, Mexico and the Philippines.

The four international locations were initially closed during the pandemic, but local governments allowed the church to reopen the plants to sew masks for their communities, the statement said.

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“Across those six facilities we have about 1,000 employees, and we are donating our time, our labor and our sewing capacity for several months,” Cowherd said.

As of this week, approximately 50,000 gowns have been sewn at the two Utah plants, and about 585,000 masks have been completed at the international plants. The church’s goal is to produce 200,000 surgical gowns and 1.5 million reusable cloth masks by the end of June, Cowherd said.

“We are the Church of Jesus Christ and we follow his teachings to love one another. We are grateful for the privilege of this opportunity to serve in this capacity. We have offered many prayers and we have seen many miracles. It has been a blessing for all involved,” Cowherd said. “It has been heartwarming to see how the global team pulled together to make this happen. When the Lord helps us, special things happen.”

Beehive Clothing also donated some of its fabric to the project, said Stan Howell, global director of Beehive Clothing. Workers can sew a gown in less than three minutes and all are size extra-large, a size that fits most adults, he said.

“All of us want to help the effort,” Howell said in the statement. “We want to help the community. We want to help the hospitals. If there is a shortage of something and we can have a small impact on that, we’re going to do everything we can.”

Members of the church’s Presiding Bishopric, including Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé and Bishop W. Christopher Waddell, second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, toured the Salt Lake City facility on May 15 and expressed appreciation for the employees and their work, the statement said.

“When I think of Christ and true Christianity, which is serving others, this is a wonderful opportunity to show love for our fellow men and to bless their lives by protecting them through this gift,” said Juan Carlos Caballero, an employee in Paraguay.

As local governments loosen community health restrictions, it’s anticipated that the regular production of sacred temple clothing will resume at the six locations in July, according to the statement.