The campaign to raise at least $1 Million was launched at our annual conference session in 2013. Imagine No Malaria assigned and financially supported Rachel Birkhahn-Rommelfanger as our field coordinator to help us raise the money. Because of her efforts, we made major strides as of our 2014 annual conference, but we still had a ways to go. A team led by Kevin Garren, who has continued to work to help us raise our goal, assisted Rachel following her appointment to a local church on July 1, 2014.
Thank you to each of you for your efforts! Not only have we met our goal with pledges, but the actual amount in hand is $760,213 which includes all the one-time gifts by churches, district offerings, and other events that raised money as well as money paid out on original pledges. Individuals pledged $95,000 of which $42,221 has already been paid out. Overall 113 churches pledged to Imagine No Malaria. We’re always having district competitions, so you might want to see the
breakdown according to districts:
Aurora $161,200 – 22 pledges
Chicago Northwestern $116,840 – 12 pledges
Chicago Southern $34,700 – 14 pledges
DeKalb $99,705 – 26 pledges
Elgin $243,825 – 27 pledges
Rockford $120,490 – 12 pledges
Grand total $776,760 – 113 pledges
The average pledge was $7,074 and ranged from $40 to $75,000. Many of these pledges and gifts have come directly from the membership of our churches, but some churches found ways to use Imagine No Malaria to involve others who also want to save lives from the preventable death from malaria.
All kinds of creative events occurred: runs, yard sales, dinners, a White Sox game, Rockford Ice Hogs Hockey game, walks, Sunday School offerings, Vacation Bible School offerings, the Bishop’s Appeal last year at annual conference, and coin collections. I want to encourage any individual, group or church who hasn’t yet pledged or given to do so and those who have pledged and planned events to continue to raise additional money for Imagine No Malaria. The lives that we save are priceless and our support makes a huge difference today and for years to come. Our goal of $1 Million is a good start!
The Minnesota Annual Conference, for instance, started with $1.8 Million and has to date reached almost $3 Million! I’ve been working at fundraising for Imagine No Malaria for at least six years in Minnesota, Northern Illinois and also with the Global Health Initiative leadership team. I know all kinds of factoids about malaria, such as the fact that malaria is to a majority of the world’s population like a cold is for us in terms of its inevitability. In fact, malaria is such an “accepted” part of life for many people that they couldn’t imagine that it could be prevented, much less treated. But through the partnerships that include The United Methodist Church, only one child dies of malaria every 60 seconds instead of every 30 seconds, which was the case when we started the campaign. Still too many, but through your efforts, we continue to decrease the number of deaths from malaria.
As The United Methodist Church, we are on schedule to meet our $75 Million goal at General Conference in May 2016. To date $66 Million has been given or pledged toward the goal; a goal that some thought was impossible for us to get within striking distance. The United Methodist Church has received “shout-outs,” awards and recognition from a number of global health entities through our efforts, not just for fundraising but the effective and long-lasting methods of distribution.
Imagine No Malaria has also built upon and grown our capacity as a church. If you’ve heard me tell the story of Imagine No Malaria, you’ve heard me say that our global health partners initially came to us because we had hospitals, clinics, schools and churches in all the locations they wanted to deliver nets and services. We were the delivery system that they didn’t otherwise have. But as a result of Imagine No Malaria, we grew the capacity of the local communities by training local health workers to do the education, deliver the nets, and follow up in communities after the nets were delivered. When Ebola hit last summer, these health workers were already established, trained and trusted in the very countries where they were needed to educate about Ebola.
Ultimately, the most important thing about Imagine No Malaria is that through our efforts, pledges and gifts, we are saving lives! In its 2014 World Report, the World Health Organization reported that malaria deaths decreased by 58% in children 5 years old and younger.
Someday we may stand at the Pearly Gates and Jesus will welcome us in, saying, “Oh, you were the ones who saved me from malaria! Come on in!” And we may be standing there, scratching our heads, wondering, “When did we see you and you had malaria?” And Jesus will answer, “Whatever you have done to the least of these with malaria, United Methodists, you have done unto me.” (BSV—Bishop Sally’s Version)
Thank you, Northern Illinois Annual Conference, for saving lives and making a difference in this world!
~Bishop Sally Dyck