By: Christa Meland
The United Methodist Church has raised just over $68 million in cash and pledges for Imagine No Malaria, a denomination-wide effort to eliminate malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa. The figure represents 90 percent of the $75 million goal.
The Minnesota Conference played a key role in this progress to date, having raised $2.8 million for Imagine No Malaria, more than all but one other conference across the connection. That $2.8 million equates to 280,000 lives saved.
Imagine No Malaria funding has paid for more than 2 million insecticide-treated bed nets. But it has also supported extensive education, prevention, and communication efforts. The United Methodist Church has trained thousands of community health workers to deliver mosquito nets and measure usage rates, and it operates hundreds of hospitals, clinics, and health posts throughout Africa that have life-saving resources like malaria medication.
Just a few years ago, malaria claimed a life every 30 seconds. That rate has been cut in half, thanks in part to the generous support of the state’s United Methodist churches.
Bishop Thomas Bickerton of the Pittsburgh Episcopal Area, who chairs the United Methodist Global Health Initiative, has led Imagine No Malaria since 2010. He said the latest milestone is “a celebration for all United Methodists, who serve as a testimony to what we can achieve when we unite for a shared vision of a world without malaria.”
Minnesota United Methodists celebrated their Imagine No Malaria achievement at a worship service at the 2014 Annual Conference. Attendees rolled three large scrolls down the aisles of the large exhibit hall where hundreds were seated. On each scroll were mosquitos, each the size of a postage stamp and each with a red “no” circle on it. Toward the end of the worship service, volunteers stood up on the stage and held letters that spelled out “Be Not Afraid.”
Churches from across the state raised money for Imagine No Malaria in a variety of creative ways. Youth from Minnetonka United Methodist Church collected nearly $41,000 through silent auctions, bake sales, car washes, pancake breakfasts, two intergenerational dances, and Christmas cards that they gave out for donations. They educated the congregation about malaria and incorporated fundraising into virtually all church events—for example, when the church celebrated its 39th birthday, members were encouraged to donate to donate in increments of 39 cents, $3.90, $39, or $390.
Meanwhile, Advent United Methodist Church in Eagan organized a 5K to raise money for Imagine No Malaria. More than 100 members and friends took to the trails after collecting money from family and friends who opted to sponsor their efforts. At least $2,500 had been given by race day.
And Thief River Falls United Methodist Church raised more than $1,400 through a May “Muffins for Malaria” fellowship and freewill offering taken in honor of the mothers in Africa who bravely deal with malaria in their families. Simultaneously, the congregation was invited to give to Imagine No Malaria in honor or memory of their mothers and other nurturing women in their lives. The list of memorials and tributes was printed in the worship bulletin on Mother's Day.
Many congregations are still fulfilling their Imagine No Malaria pledges, which should continue to be remitted as we work to reach 100 percent of the $75 million denominational goal.
Imagine No Malaria recently launched a social media campaign to kick off the final phase of fundraising with the #Give10 Challenge. The idea is that by donating $10 or more, the people of The United Methodist Church will work together to reach the last 10 percent of the goal. Donate here or by submitting a check to the Minnesota Annual Conference (put “Imagine No Malaria” in the subject line), 122 W. Franklin Ave., Suite 400, Minneapolis, MN 55404.
You can still help us reach $75 million by donating and making a difference in the life of a child, adult, or family.
The United Methodist Church has played a significant role in worldwide efforts to reduce malaria, Rear Admiral Tim Ziemer, who heads the President’s Malaria Initiative in Washington, recently said.
“The United Methodist Church’s delivery on their commitment of $75 million in support of your Imagine No Malaria campaign is unprecedented and has set the bar very high for other faith-based partners,” he said. “Imagine the thousands of lives that have been saved and the families that have benefited from less malaria in their homes and communities. I recently visited Zimbabwe and saw firsthand the fantastic work that The United Methodist Church is doing.”
Learn more at www.imaginenomalaria.org.
Christa Meland is director of communications for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church