Imagine No Malaria – People in pews and big donors net millions to fight malaria
As the Imagine No Malaria campaign enters its home stretch, United Methodists can look with satisfaction at $60 million already raised in gifts and pledges, and with hope and confidence toward surpassing the $75 million goal by the end of 2015.
Most of the money raised has been from grassroots efforts like bake sales, car washes and children donating birthday money. “Now, gifts of $1 million are coming in, and there are opportunities for more of these,” said Pittsburgh Area Bishop Thomas Bickerton, chairperson of the executive committee for Imagine No Malaria.
“This is what it means to be connectional,” said Bishop Bickerton. “Everyone in the pews contributes to the success of Imagine No Malaria. This is selfless, joyful giving. This is generosity that will save thousands of lives. I am so proud of my United Methodist brothers and sisters in Christ.”
Malaria has been killing for thousands of generations, but improved prevention, sanitation and healthcare have all but eliminated it from the developed world. Despite this progress, however, malaria continues to kill at a rate of almost one death every minute in Africa — millions of children infected each year.
These needless deaths have galvanized United Methodists, particularly those who have been to Africa and have witnessed the extent of malaria’s devastation. Donnellson United Methodist Church in Iowa has fewer than 50 people in worship on Sundays, yet, on average, church members have donated $187 per person.
Donnellson United Methodist Church’s pastor, the Rev. Peggy Ellingson, said her church’s active mission focus has led members to visit Africa several times.
“It really hits home,” Ellingson said. “That connection, that real connection of people who have been there, have seen it, have done it, the end result of their making a difference and then sharing it with the rest of the group, really makes all the difference in the world.”
The United Methodist Church has operated hospitals and clinics in Africa for more than 200 years. Imagine No Malaria takes decades of good work a step further. The campaign allows the church to offer a comprehensive plan that relies on full partnerships with African communities, focusing equally on four efforts: prevention, treatment, education and communications.
“Where better can you make a difference than channeling through The United Methodist Church to attack a global issue?” asked Jerre Stead. “There’s not a lot of places that allow investments like leadership gifts to maximize the return, and (the church is) clearly one. It’s an excellent one.”