Thanks to the efforts of United Methodists in Pennsylvania and across the connection, the church has reached 90 percent of its goal of $75 million to combat suffering and death from malaria. The three UMC bishops from across the state gathered at a press conference Nov. 16 at Camp Hill UMC in Harrisburg, to announce that the denomination has raised $68 million in cash and pledges for Imagine No Malaria.
Bishop Jeremiah Park of the Susquehanna Conference partnered with his conference in pledging $1 million to push the global campaign to that fundraising milestone. Park presented a check for 15 percent of the pledge, nearly $150,000, to Bishop Thomas Bickerton of the Western PA Conference as part of the celebration. Bickerton, who chairs the United Methodist Global Health Initiative, has led the Imagine No Malaria campaign since 2010.
“We thank Bishop Park and United Methodists throughout Central Pennsylvania who have made this pledge. We also thank United Methodists throughout the world whose fundraising efforts have now raised $68 million in cash and pledges for Imagine No Malaria,” Bickerton said. “Today’s announcement 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 deaths.”
Bishop Peggy Johnson of the Eastern PA Conference, where members have donated more than $300,000, was also there to celebrate with her episcopal colleagues. Her conference had just raised $40,000 in gifts and pledges on Saturday, Nov. 14, during their adjourned session of Annual Conference. Johnson cited some effective fundraising efforts her churches have used, ranging from 5K races to bake sales.
And the Rev. Tom Willard, senior pastor at Camp Hill UMC, shared his personal story of contracting malaria following a mission trip two years ago to Sierra Leone.
The event began with children from Camp Hill’s preschool program singing, “Jesus Love the Little Children” and a medley of other Sunday school favorites, while images of children on the continent of Africa played behind them. The multimedia presentation helped drive home the point that for many children, malaria threatens the opportunity to grow up healthy. That is what Imagine No Malaria and other global partners are working to change.
It was fitting that children were a part of the event as young people in the church have been vital to Imagine No Malaria’s fundraising efforts, from planning events to donating from their piggy banks. The initiative has taken on a grass-roots quality with donations coming from individual givers and kids with lemonade stands. Churches have run races, shot hoops and challenged each other on social media. From motorcycle rides to bake sales, United Methodists have rallied around the cause, and every penny has made a difference.
In fact, it was 5-year-old Katherine Cammale of Hopewell UMC in Downington Pa., who started raising funds for protective bed nets 10 years ago and ignited what became the global Nothing but Nets campaign. Cammale, now 15, and her mother Lynda Cammale addressed the Eastern PA Annual Conference body on Saturday which helped to inspire their generous offering.
During Monday’s event, Bickerton also shared congratulatory remarks from Rear Admiral Tim Ziemer who heads the President’s Malaria Initiative in Washington, a leader in the global fight against malaria.
“What a remarkable achievement! 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,” Ziemer 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.”
Now Imagine No Malaria has launched a social media campaign to kick off the final phase of fundraising with the #Give10 Challenge. By donating $10 each or more at ImagineNoMalaria.org, United Methodists can work together to reach the last 10 percent of the goal and help end death and suffering from malaria through prevention, communication, trained health workers and facilities, and grass-roots education.
Article adapted from a release written by Laurens Glass, managing editor of UMCOM.org.
Photos taken by Sandii Peiffer