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Benefit concert to celebrate S.C. Imagine No Malaria efforts

By Jessica Brodie

FLORENCE—A big-name benefit concert will not only celebrate South Carolina’s efforts to eradicate malaria but also help raise final funds for the campaign.

Popular contemporary Christian band The Digital Age will perform in a free concert Tuesday night, June 7, at Annual Conference in Florence. A love offering will be taken to help Imagine No Malaria, and organizers are asking people to consider donating the cost of a typical concert ticket as their contribution. The Digital Age features four of the six musicians from the Grammy-nominated, multiple Dove Award-winning David Crowder Band; they headlined the South Carolina Conference’s youth Revolution event in 2013.

“It’s a celebration of what we have accomplished, but also an encouragement to continue raising awareness and funds for Imagine No Malaria,” said Imagine No Malaria Field Coordinator the Rev. Jeri Katherine Sipes.

Abigail Wiren, a teen who serves on the Imagine No Malaria Task Force, called The Digital Age “a band that will get you out of your out of your seat and have you dancing and singing and screaming the lyrics within minutes.”

By June 7, the task force hopes to have $1 million pledged or cash in hand so the concert can be a full celebration.

“We have three years total to turn in our $1 million, which was pledged in 2015, so we want churches and individuals to make pledges and bring pledge cards to the concert,” Sipes said. “If someone didn’t have time this year to take up an offering or host an event or a fundraiser for Imagine No Malaria, then you still have two more years.”

Pledge cards are available at inm.umcsc.org, and the conference can also provide resources to help with local fundraising efforts.

Organizers hope that not only Annual Conference attendees will come to the concert but also United Methodist youth groups across the state, as well as those outside the UMC.

Director of Communications Matt Brodie said the concert will be an exciting night that will help youth and others see the work the UMC has done throughout the world via Imagine No Malaria.

“Our pledge with Imagine No Malaria is a pledge to our mission throughout the world and to the least of these, and through these efforts, we not only live out our connectionalism but our calling,” Brodie said.

Sipes agreed.

“This has been a hard year for South Carolina with Mother Emanuel and the flood, so many emotionally and financially taxing days for our people, so we realize it’s been difficult to think past South Carolina when there are so many needs in our home state,” Sipes said. “But the world is still our parish, and we still have a calling to fulfill our $1 million pledge to save lives through Imagine No Malaria.”

Bishop Jonathan and Felecia Holston and the Cabinet have personally pledged $20,000 to date, leading by example, and churches and individuals across the state have been hard at work since last June raising money and awareness about the mosquito-borne disease.

And every little bit helps, Sipes said.

“One dollar per member per month for one year will put us over our goal,” Sipes said, noting that Florence District Superintendent the Rev. John Hipp has encouraged his district to give that amount for three years.

As with the conference’s successful Stop Hunger Now campaign, anything over the $1 million will stay in South Carolina to address statewide health concerns beyond malaria.

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