It is amazing how God inspires creativity in the most unimaginable ways! Like many churches, the First United Methodist Church of West Chicago received the letter from Bishop Dyck regarding the NIC Imagine No Malaria
Campaign and passed it on to the Church Council. Between discussion and prayer, the Council decided on a pledge of $9,000 to be paid at the end of three years to support Imagine No Malaria. This might not sound like a
tremendous amount of money, but for this church it was a leap of faith.
The congregation works hard to pay apportionments along with a hefty mortgage each month. The Church Council then decided to use the entire Christmas offering towards the $9,000 pledge. This was a risky decision
as in other years the Christmas offering has helped pay the apportionments.
This leap of faith was rewarded with a good start towards the goal for Imagine no Malaria and the apportionment was paid in full. In addition to the Christmas offering, the United Methodist and Congregational
Women, the United Methodist and Congregational Men and the Station Youth all made donations to support Imagine No Malaria.
Individuals stepped up in various ways also. When it came time to take photos for our new church directory, a member of our congregation who is a professional photographer, took all the photos. He made
copies of the photos for each family and sold them for $5 each. All the money he collected was in turn donated toward the pledge to Imagine No Malaria.
The church was blessed by a visit from Bishop Dyck for Creation Care Sunday on April 27 to deliver the message. Pastor Timothy Mitchell, on behalf of the congregation, was pleased to present her with the check covering over half of the total pledge to Imagine No Malaria. However, Imagine No Malaria is not just about collecting money. It is also about educating people about this illness that no longer exists in this country.
The Church Council was again presented with an idea to use the church’s annual float entry in the West Chicago Railroad Days Parade as a way to inform our community about malaria and inspire them to Imagine No Malaria. Pastor Mitchell and his wife Jody had been involved at their previous church with Nothing But Nets. Jody had kept all the supplies including the bed net. This inspired the float committee to use a four-poster single bed to be covered by the bed net as the centerpiece for the float. The four-poster bed was disguised to look like four trees holding up the bed net, which was in turn covered with giant mosquitos. Small children road the float sitting under the bed net and a large banner announced our mission. In addition, adults wearing pith helmets covered with netting handed out candy with information about Imagine No Malaria along the parade route.
The float was a huge success and won the parade’s Turner Award. As reported in the blog, At Home with Merle Burleigh: “First United Methodist Church of West Chicago won the Turner Award, which is for a business or organization best depicting its purpose or service. There were several entries that drew appreciation from the judges, but this one ‘netted’ the judges’ votes. With the netting and mosquitos, the float clearly depicted one of the missions the church is supporting, ‘Imagine No Malaria.’ One judge said, ‘It was such an important message, imagine stopping Malaria.’ Another said, ‘It was awesome.’”
Church members continued to find ways to have fun while collecting support for Imagine No Malaria. The Green Disciples, an environmental stewardship group within the church, has never held fundraisers; but wanted to help support this important cause. Over the summer they organize “Green Sundays”and encourage people to ride bikes to church or to carpool to church. Following worship, they ride the trails to a local restaurant and eat a meal together.
Others who do not ride join the lunchtime fellowship by carpooling to the restaurant. Sunday, September 21 was the last “Green Sunday” for the year and the Green Disciples arranged for a local restaurant, Augustino’s Rock and Roll Deli in West Chicago, to donate 15% of food orders when the customer identified their order as being in support of Imagine No Malaria.
The riders also asked friends and relatives to support the ride to the restaurant by donating online through UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) to Imagine No Malaria. This event was advertised locally in the hope that members of the community will remember seeing the float in the Railroad Days Parade and take this opportunity to enjoy good food and support Imagine No Malaria. Church members continue to show the community that they love God, follow Jesus and to serve others.