By Jessica Brodie
As the conference’s Imagine No Malaria initiative heads into its fifth month, leaders are now stepping up in a bold way, making personal donations to combat the disease.
“The leaders are challenging one another to lead by example,” said Field Coordinator the Rev. Jeri Katherine Warden Sipes. “They are taking the initiative to put skin in the game, asking others to give, and they themselves are going to give.”
Sipes said the Extended Cabinet—including all 12 district superintendents—has pledged to give a combined total of $20,000 to the Imagine No Malaria initiative, with varying amounts going to each local church in their district that will be used as seed money to ensure 100 percent participation in the conference’s undertaking.
Bishop Jonathan Holston and his wife, Felecia, have done much the same, personally giving $100 to each district, and Conference Lay Leader Barbara Ware has challenged all district lay leaders, the conference president of United Methodist Women, the conference president of United Methodist Men and the conference director of Lay Servant Ministries to match her pledge.
“Imagine No Malaria is a cause I eagerly support because I know it makes a difference in the lives of so many children and adults,” Ware said. “I believe in this organization and know our donations are used to help save lives and give especially children a longer life expectancy.”
The children and youth have played a key role in the conference’s initiative until now, with the most significant amounts of money raised by them, and are expected to continue to lead the way as the conference makes its way toward the million-dollar goal.
“I think the kids have inspired them,” Sipes said of conference leaders. “All our leaders are so hands-on and involved, and they’re not going to ask anything of their churches and laity that they’re not going to do, and the best way to show that is to step up to the plate. They made a decision together and now will hold each other accountable. We’re responsible for $1 million, and we need to hold each other to that.”
The Imagine No Malaria initiative launched at Annual Conference in June and commits the conference to raising $1 million over the next year for The United Methodist Church’s outreach effort. The global UMC has already raised $66 million to fight the disease that has claimed the lives of millions, particularly children, the elderly and pregnant women. South Carolina’s efforts will make that $67 million, with the ultimate goal being $75 million to help the world Imagine No Malaria.
South Carolina’s Imagine No Malaria team is co-chaired by Felecia Holston and the Rev. Mike Alexander. Every church in the conference is expected to contribute. One hundred percent of the funds will go to Imagine No Malaria initiatives focusing on prevention (bed nets given to families), treatment (improving and equipping hospitals, medication and setting up clinics in rural areas), education (training health workers) and communication (reaching out to the community with information on how to prevent malaria, identify symptoms and get treatment). They are focusing on sub-Saharan Africa because that is where 90 percent of the deaths occur.
As of press time, the conference has raised $105,517 for Imagine No Malaria, with $894,483 to go.
Youth to design Imagine No Malaria T-shirt
In addition to funds raised by individual children, vacation Bible school groups and other efforts, all youth are now being invited to get involved through Revolution, the conference’s massive youth spiritual weekend set for Jan. 29-31, 2016, in Columbia. The offering taken up a Revolution will be for Imagine No Malaria, and Sipes said the youth group that raises the most money will get a prize (to be announced).
Youth are also being invited to design the conference Imagine No Malaria T-shirt; the winner will be announced at Revolution. The deadline for designs is Jan. 8, 2016, and all designs should be emailed to Sipes in .jpg format by that date. There are no rules or color guidelines, and the contest is only open to youth. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Imagine No Malaria Children’s Sabbath Resource Kit will be available soon at inm.umcsc.org.
For more information about Imagine No Malaria, to share success stories at your church or to learn how to get more involved, visit inm.umcsc.org, or call or email Sipes at 803-381-6622 or email@example.com.