Minnesota United Methodists raise over $2 million for Imagine No Malaria
New Day United Methodist Church (Big Lake) promoted Imagine No Malaria at the town’s 2011 Spud Fest Parade.
January 3, 2012
Minnesota United Methodists have raised $2,483,420* in pledges and gifts for Imagine No Malaria, the United Methodist Church’s campaign to eliminate malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa by 2015. This is the highest amount raised by a United Methodist conference (regional judicatory) to date.
“This is a vivid demonstration of the vitality of our participating churches,” says Bishop Sally Dyck, leader of the Minnesota Annual Conference. “They have vision for the realm of God and compassion for people outside of their immediate community. Their creativity in raising awareness and giving generously is inspiring.”
Malaria, a preventable disease spread by mosquitoes, no longer occurs in developed nations such as the United States. It’s the conviction of Imagine No Malaria that deaths from malaria can be prevented even in sub-Saharan Africa, where it is estimated that a child dies every 45 seconds from the disease.
Imagine No Malaria, in partnership with the United Nations Foundation and working alongside organizations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization, and others, already has diminished the death toll through medical aid, preventive measures, education, and communication. United Methodists around the world are working to raise $75 million for the mission.
Having raised $1.2 million in pledges by Nov. 30, 2011, Minnesota United Methodists earned an additional $600,000 in the form of a challenge grant from an anonymous donor. The conference’s total pledge goal was $1.8 million.
Minnesota—with 355 apportioned churches, not the largest conference in the United Methodist Church—is the only one to exceed $1.5 million in pledges and gifts to Imagine No Malaria and the only one to reach its goal before the end of the pledge period (seven months early). Additional pledges are expected.
“Young people have been particularly drawn to this ministry,” Bishop Dyck says. “They are interested in church when church is saving lives.”
Bishop Dyck “is our strongest advocate as a whole,” says Leia Williams, the full-time Imagine No Malaria field coordinator assigned to Minnesota. “She’s a strong advocate for people in Africa, who don’t have a voice in the United States, and she advocates for revitalization in local congregations through participation in global missions.”
“Bishop Dyck made sure churches got the resources and training they need. She set aside a significant amount of time for me to address annual conference session. She motivated the Cabinet to engage local congregations. She personally solicited and obtained major gifts, including a matching gift to encourage congregational participation.”
Williams also pointed to pastoral leadership. “In this bad economy pastors still embrace that God is a God of abundance,” she says.
The people of The United Methodist Church are stepping up “at a critical time,” said the Rev. Larry Hollon, top executive of United Methodist Communications, which handles the Imagine No Malaria campaign.
“As major-country donors are not increasing their pledges and, in some cases, reducing their contributions to the global effort to end malaria, the people of the Minnesota Annual Conference are giving a strong and encouraging message that the church can make a substantial difference in the fight against malaria.”
Through their donation to Imagine No Malaria, Minnesota United Methodists “are making a strong witness to the world that it's critical for people of faith to tackle the diseases of poverty by backing up our words of concern with meaningful action,” Hollon added.
Bishop Dyck says the secret of Minnesota’s success are the following best practices.
- “Having a full-time field coordinator was key,” Bishop Dyck says. Congregations will agree with her assessment that “we’ve had the best in Leia Williams.”
- Lay participation in training events—conducted in several locations across the large state of Minnesota—from many churches of all sizes ensured that more churches made significant pledges. Trainings gave church representatives enthusiasm for the mission and equipped them to raise awareness and ask others to participate.
- District superintendents committed themselves to the mission. They urged their churches to attend trainings and make daring pledges. They asked churches about their plans to include Imagine No Malaria in their mission teaching and giving.
The church's connectional giving system--which has accountable receipt and recording processes in place--makes it possible for 100 percent of donations to go directly to malaria abatement and treatment. Further, the size of the United Mehodist Church, and the fact that it is a world-wide organization, enables it to successfully attract influential partners in causes like Imagine No Malaria.
Twenty-one percent of Minnesota United Methodist congregations set a pledge goal of saving at least 10 lives per average worship attendee, raising over $1.1 million in pledges. The conference successfully exceeded its goal even with fewer than 30 percent of churches pledging at this level (the participation level upon which conference goals are calculated).
Eighty-three other Minnesota United Methodist churches also set goals, collectively raising $300,000 in pledges.
Two hundred and one churches are participating. Sixty-eight percent of churches sent representation to training, exceeding all other conference training participation levels.
“This has been a great example of combining large-gift cultivation and congregational participation,” Bishop Dyck says. “Participating churches are showing their neighbors that they are relevant and compassionate.”
*figure updated on Nov. 28, 2012. As of that date, $1,057,449 (42.5 percent) had been received.